Last night after work I had the opportunity to hang out with a couple of close friends. The first was for some exercise as we ran a local six mile loop together. Afterwards, my wife and I grilled out with another friend of mine. When the night ended I was reminded of the importance of friendship. For someone desiring to live a life of integrity, friendship is vital.
I recently read that, “A person becomes the average of the five people closest to him.” The statement caused me to stop and take some inventory with regard to my friendships. Perhaps you should do the same? Studies show that we spend like our friends spend, we weigh what our friends weigh, we live in houses like our friends houses, send our kids to the same schools, the list goes on and on . . .
I know for me personally, the books I read, the places I hang out, the places I eat, and even my level of fitness is affected by those closest to me.
When you stop and think about it, the value of friendship is a lot like bowling. Have you been bowling recently? If so, perhaps you noticed that some people chose the option of bowling with bumpers in their gutters. Bumpers are designed to keep the ball on track and make the game more enjoyable for little kids. Occasionally, adults who are bad bowlers will even volunteer to bowl with the tikes just so they too can be protected by the bumpers. Just ask my daughter . . .
Don’t you wish they offered bumpers on the other areas of your life? Actually, they do. They’re called friends. And they determine the direction of your life. If you are surrounded by friends who have integrity, you are much more likely to stay on track yourself. If you isolate yourself and go it alone, chances are you will find yourself continually in the gutter.
As a leader, you may be tempted to think, “It’s lonely at the top.” But let me remind you that loneliness is a choice. To quote my mom: “If you want to have a friend, be a friend.” I would take it a step further by saying, find friends who have integrity.
Stupidity is a choice too. And trying the leadership thing by yourself is bordering on stupid. You weren’t designed to go it alone. Find yourself some friends to be your bumpers who will keep you on track. Your integrity and influence are on the line!
Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.