People often say, “you know who your true friends are when times are tough.” I believe you know who your true friends are when you are succeeding. One of the common denominators between my clients is that they’ve had some form of success in one area of their life. They hire me because they are seeking an outside perspective and insight to gain success in another area. On their journey, as they've accomplished some great things, some of their friends have let them down. It would amaze you at how weird people get when they see their friends succeeding. Especially if there is any semblance of notoriety attached to their success.
Here is some simple advice... If you would like to have better friendships, be a better friend. If you would like your relationships to rise in quality, commit to raising the quality of your own life. One of the ways you can do that is by being a better friend. Here are some specific ways that you can do that for the people in your life that are having some major ‘wins’.
Celebrate with them
Sometimes when our friends succeed we can become jealous, for several reasons.
One… it reminds us that we have work to do. Our friend has put in the time, the networking, and the hard work to achieve what they’ve accomplished. It would be easy to think that they got a lucky break, but the truth is, at some point our friend put in a lot of hard work. Maybe you have too, but you know there is more to go if you’re ever going to be able to reap the rewards.
Two… we have a scarcity mentality. That is to say, we believe that there's a limited amount of resources in the universe, or a 'zero sum game'. The errant thought is that if your friend is getting more of those resources that means there's less for you. But this is a weak and small way to view the world. There's plenty to go around. If you are adding value to people they will want to give back in some form, be it a deeper relationship, fiscal, or by recognition.
Being a better friend means that you let go of those limiting beliefs and celebrate with them. Be genuinely happy for them. You have no idea how much this means to your friend that you are willing to come with an open heart and an open mind. Congratulate them and party with them on their journey. A lot of their friends won't do this. So it is during times of success that they particularly need you to be a better friend to celebrate alongside.
Get off of their coat tails
Often times when our friends are doing well, our immediate thought is, ‘how can this benefit me'. That’s natural. But if you want to be a better friend, stop asking that question. Stop it right now. Every one of their friends will be asking them for help in one form or another. What they need is a better friend who offers them a space that is safe. They need a someone who is more interested how they are doing. Try asking the question, "how can I help you during this time".
A funny thing happens when people become successful. They begin to feel like they are a commodity being used for their friendships rather than simply being loved and cared for. You have what it takes. You don't need to bug your friend for a big break. Just continue creating and doing what you love to do. I'm not saying that you shouldn't ask for their advice or be willing to collaborate with them should they desire to work on something together. Collaboration is awesome. Fewer things are more satisfying than working side-by-side with someone who shares a common vision. But don't be that guy or girl who continually calls your friend and asks for a favor related to their success. You may not like what you hear when they respond honestly to your request. And being a better friend means giving. Try asking questions in regards to their creative process, or their work ethic.
Don't be afraid to receive help when it's offered
This may sound like conflicting advice. But if your friend has had an amount of success and they believe in you and your work, it will be natural for them to want to help you. They will want to share what they've learned. Or they may want to introduce you to a contact. This may help them process through what they have learned as much as it helps you advance in your endeavors. Don't be afraid to receive help when a friend does offer. This is different than riding their coat tails. Again, this is about giving as much as receiving. You are giving your friend the space to create more by allowing them to share.
Drop the ‘name dropping’
It may seem beneficial to you to mention that you’re friends with your well known pal. You will certainly derive some significance from this. However, there are two negative side effects to this behavior. First, everyone around you will get tired of hearing about how you’re ‘close’ with this person. Second, it will get back to your friend that you’ve been mentioning them, and they will feel like the friendship is less genuine. Just don’t do it. Instead, make a positive comment when someone mentions their work in a way that adds to the conversation. This puts your friend in a better light and does a good service to them. Isn’t that what you want for your friends? To edify them and build them up?
It doesn’t matter what level of success your friends are having. It could be a promotion, a new relationship, or a successful business launch. These principles work. Don’t be so insecure and afraid of the unknown that you end up being a poor friend to those that you love and care about.
"In my life I've learned that true happiness comes from giving. Helping others along the way makes you evaluate who you are. I think that love is what we're all searching for. I haven't come across anyone who didn't become a better person through love." - Marla Gibbs
"My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake." - Aristotle
"Fact: If standard of living is your number one objective, quality of life almost never improves. But if quality of life is your number one objective, standard of living invariably improves." - Zig Ziglar