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Friends: The imperishable

I have been honoured over my life time to have strong friends, abiding, enduring relationships. Recently, I’ve had cause to rejoice in them: be extremely grateful for them.

Hey, there are friends and there are friends. Casual acquaintances, you would recognize them and say “hello” on the street. Work friends who relate when driven together by biz. Friends courtesy of involvements in clubs and organizations – people I gel with there vs. have no real feeling for.

And then there are sustaining friends.

You don’t need a club to hold these to you – they stick by themselves. And they stick even when you’re reclusive – hiding out. They come in after you.

“What’s up?” in a call out of the blue. They didn’t have to call, they just did and do. They listen to your ills and triumphs. Being men, they supply an appropriate amount of salt. And sometimes offer perspectives. Usually born of long familiarity and deep knowledge of you, these folks can offer trenchant and course altering substance you can chew on.

The remainder of this will be primarily pointed at men. Women do not seem lacking in this dimension at all….

This is much more than advice on which car to buy or why to buy a Ping driver – although we ping pong between the superficial and deeper. These guys are down in there, know you and your circumstances, care about you and offer nourishing stuff from the heart.

Here’s one: A close buddy from California was facing 4 weeks in the hospital for stem cell treatment. He was talking to Simon. “I can’t do it. 4 weeks in the hospital, I just can’t do it.” Simon didn’t waste any words: “Jeff, here’s how it goes: “4 weeks in the hospital? I can do that!” And just like that, Jeff’s entire perspective changed. He breezed through.

They’re not all blinding insights, but sometimes damned interesting. Derek, on a visit the other day, explained about Ozonators. You can put one of these in a room [you get them from a rental shop] and in 2 – 4 hours it will kill every organic source of odor in the room. Just don’t stay in the room yourself, or you’ll be oxygenated too!

Friends: How many sustaining friends do you have? Can you name them?

Many CEO / Leaders that I talk to are clear. It’s the spouse. For those people, as excellent as it is to have a strong marriage, I wish more.

I wish sustaining friends for these ones. When they acknowledge the richness, wisdom and support that others can bring, they are more open to giving and receiving influence. Less “complete” unto themselves.

You don’t talk about what color socks to wear.   Friends can look for variety of input on a number of key fronts: “What about a breakout for our company – any ideas?” “Where do I go with a kid on cocaine?” “A key partner supplier is starting to carve up our share: what’s going on?”

And people follow up with them: remember the commitments they made, remind them of their best intentions and aspects.

But for men, friends like that are kinda insurance. You don’t need ’em: until you do. There are times when you come straight up against the limits of what you can control. Serious sickness, death of a spouse, or – God forbid – a child. All of a sudden, you’re at the edge of town, beaten up with no wallet… Now’s the time for a friend.

But it isn’t always life crisis.   When you could use a lift, they’re there. When you’re drifting, they turn up. If it’s time to jump into the next adventure, they encourage you. When it’s time to celebrate, they’re the first ones you want to invite.

There are two parts: seeking them out and letting them in.

It’s great to be a recipient. All you have to do is stop with the routinized responses and be authentic. You have reliable inbuilt guidance from there.

To be a new seeker, you have great success just by being on the other side of those calls. By just injecting yourself when not necessarily invited. Even the sound of that is hard to handle. But that’s how it works! Out of affection and care, just by calling when there is no “reason”, you signal you’re ready. Of course, the other may rebuff you with conventional palaver. But some will recognize the invitation, and accept.

Ron’s name is running through your mind. It has been since you saw him at a cocktail party Friday and he looked troubled. You give him a buzz and, after preliminaries, go to why you called. “You seemed troubled. What’s happening, buddy?” After the usual denial or fencing to indicate it’s nothing he can’t handle, he may open up and talk.

His wife lost her job. Don’t advise, just listen. He’s not looking for a doctor, he’s looking for…. a friend. And he’s just found one.

If your answer to the “how many” question above is satisfying to you, then be on your way. If it rolls around with you for a day or so, it’s time to open a file. It’s called “New Friends”.

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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