Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being a Great Friend

"Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.” Mark Twain

After reading this quote a few days ago (a friend posted it on Facebook) we've reflected on how true this is. New research is indicating that our friends can influence us to be happier or more miserable, healthier or fatter, so why wouldn't it be true that they could, simply by social pressure, either help us to achieve our greatness or influence us to give up?

If we were focusing on the negative we would talk about "defriending" all of those acquaintances that put us down or "belittle our ambitions" as Mark Twain said. However, rather than focus on the negative, we'd prefer to focus on finding and/or becoming those types of friends who help others achieve greatness. And so we want to identify the qualities of friends who assist us in our greatness journey.

Primarily these friends encourage the growth and development of the unconventional thinking that leads to greatness. Rather than correcting or admonishing new thinking, these friends encourage it.

Also, when we propose a new thought, a breakthrough, a new discovery, or just the next level in our journey a good friend does not attack or undermine us, but congratulates us and asks us to tell them about it. (It is a skill called Active Constructive Responding - more info at Positive Psychology News Daily).

Yet the greatest skill of true friends is that they challenge us to go further in our idea, goal, or work. Gently they provide encouragement by pushing and prodding us to continue on our journey. And they journey with us as much as possible to help us through the difficult times.

Whether you are looking for true friends, or trying to be a good friend, these are the qualities that encourage greatness in others. Remember Mark Twain is right, "the really great make you believe that you too can be great".


Nick said...

Have you read Aristotle's "book" (chapter) on friendship?

He defines 3 type: pleasure, utility, and virtue. Encouraging the betterment of each other would fall under the virtue category -- and from my experience, these are the most valuable kinds of friends.

Pleasure and utility have their place, but virtue is a lifelong pursuit, and my friendships based on virtue are the only ones that last :)

I think you hit the nail on the head Scott :)


Greatness Project said...

Excellent comment. I have read Aristotle on friendship, but had forgotten about it. Interesting comparison. Thanks for reminding all of us.