So, yesterday I promised to spend the next handful of updates showing you how I think about friendship…
But before we get into some action steps, let’s quickly map out the framework that underlies the whole system.
I call it “Core Theory“. And it basically looks something like this:
Let me explain….
Like all puzzles, friendship becomes easier to think about if we break it down first.
And to do that, I like to split my relationships into 5 levels of intimacy:
- Family – The last people left standing, even if you lose everything and everyone else (often but not necessarily related to you);
- Inner Core – Your best friends;
- Middle Core – Your good friends;
- Outer Core – Other friends you stay actively in touch with; and
- Core-Bit – People who float in and out of your life (e.g., colleagues, community members, passing acquaintances).
Now, if you’re anything like me when I started thinking clearly about friendship, there’s a good chance your core is a mess.
Common problems (aside from not having a framework) include:
- Having no clear idea what your core currently looks like;
- Having no clear vision of what your core would look like ideally;
- Dealing with toxic and/or low-value squatters;
- Having big gaps at and/or imbalances between each of the levels;
- Not knowing how to fill out and balance those gaps; and
- Not systematically nourishing your high-value connections.
If any of those issues sounds familiar – don’t worry. You’re not alone
The truth is, most of us are more deliberate about what takeout to order or movies to watch than we are about our most important relationships.
Partly because nobody teaches this stuff in school or at home or at work. But mostly because there’s a common misconception that being born able to do something makes us naturally and automatically good at it.
Which is both wrong AND crazy.
Because (a) from languages, to learning, to problem solving, to running, to relationship building – there is almost nothing about our basic skill sets that cannot be vastly and easily improved.
And because (b) good relationships aren’t just nice to have… they’re game changing. In fact, some people might argue that they ARE the whole point of the game; that the key measure of a life fully lived is the number of people you’ve gathered who you love and who love you in return when the reaper comes knocking.
Even if that’s not your perspective, I can promise you this – if you have any interest in leading a full, happy and meaningful life; and if you acknowledge that we naturally become more like the people we spend the most time with, then that kind of negligence simply doesn’t make sense.
This is one problem it makes sense to fix.
Still with me? Alright, awesome.
Let’s leave it at that for today.
That’s the framework we’ll work with. Those are the problems we’ll tackle. Those are the stakes on the table.
Look out for tomorrow’s email where we’ll get straight into some action steps in the next part of our series on friendship.
And until then, stay curious, be awesome and go well.