How to Choose Great Friends

Do you remember when we were kids, our parents and teachers told us to be careful with peer pressure? They said peers could pressure us to do things we didn’t want to do. Peer pressure was a bad thing, right? What if I told you that as an adult, peer pressure is a wonderful thing, as long as you choose the right peers? If you have great friends, they could pressure you to do amazing things with your life, things you wouldn’t have done without good peer pressure. Your close friends can dictate your diet, health, marriage, relationships, finances, and even your happiness. This is why today’s episode is called, “How to Choose Great Friends.” I dive into this topic and process the question of why you’re no longer with some of the people that used to be your best friends, and whether or not that’s a bad thing.

The Three Phases of Friendships

There are three phases of friendship

Phase 1: Ages 12-18: Acceptance and Innocence

Phase one of friendship is between the ages of 12 to 18 years old. This is the phase when you’re in school, trying to be cool. You just want to be accepted in this phase. You’re just happy you have friends. As a matter of fact, your parents are somewhat happy that you have some friends because it means you’re not a loner. You're like, "Hey, I have five friends. These guys are willing to be friends with me. This is so cool. I'm accepted."

Phase 2: Ages 19-29: Experiment - Mistakes - Finding Yourself

Phase two, between the ages 19 to 29, is the experimenting phase. In this phase you experiment with people, and who you get along with. You experiment, and learn about yourself.

Phase 3: Age 30+: Clarity

At Phase three, aged 30 and beyond, clarity comes. You have an idea of what you like and don’t like, and the types of people you want to be friends with. In this phase you’re somewhat self-aware.

Some people are still friends with their high school friends. Why? Then other friends that were previously inseparable, don’t get along or can’t sit down together for a 20-minute conversation. At 17, you were together all day, every day, and now you have nothing in common. Why is that?

The Evolution of Friendship

Here's why. It's the evolution of friendship. The evolution of friendship is very interesting. If you and your friend both have the same interests and goals now as you did at age 16, you get along.

If you and your friend both decided to become an entrepreneur, lawyer or an executive on a career path, you’ve both changed, and you get along.

But if at age 21 you were the best at partying, and so was your friend Bobby, but now you’re running a business, an attorney, an executive and doing very well for yourself, but Bobby still hasn’t changed, you have nothing in common and won’t get along. This is why when you see a friend from high school, you no longer want to hang out. It doesn’t mean you or they are a bad person. There’s just no longer a connection.

Three Types of People that Benefit Us

There are three different types of people that benefit us:

  • People above us. These are the people that we aspire to be one day.
  • People at the same level as us.
  • People below us. And when I say below, I don’t mean it in a demeaning way, as if they’re inferior. They are the ones who aspire to have our life.

Benefits of Hanging Around People Above You

What is the benefit to hanging out with people above you? You aspire to be like them, so they challenge you and push you.

Listen in here for an experience I had at a party when I was 22 or 23 years old, where I was surrounded by people way more successful than me.

 Benefits of Hanging Around People the Same Level as You  

The benefits of hanging around people that are the same level as you is that you realize you’re not alone. This is very important, because if you’re going through a struggle you need to be around others who have gone or are going through the same struggles, who understand what you’re going through.

This is why organizations like YPO and Vistage do very well, because it’s a place you can go and be around entrepreneurs that are struggling with the same things.

Benefits of Hanging Around People Below You

When you hang out with people below you, you realize you have value to bring to others, so you can lift people up. It feels good when you do that.

But it’s not all good. Listen in here for the bad parts of hanging around people below you.

How to Pick and Choose Great Friends

A study done in Britain said that the average person ends up having 396 friends in their life. And I’m not talking about Facebook friends. Some people say, “I’ve got 5,000 friends! I’ve reached my max!” Those are not friends. They’re not even acquaintances. Maybe 10% of those are even acquaintances. Some are just following you because you met somewhere. But you have 396 actual friends over your lifetime.

Out of those, one in 12 stays with you; so around 33 friends stay with you. Euripides said, “One loyal friend is worth more than 10,000 relatives.”

You have family members that act like they’re your enemies sometimes, right? They don’t want to see you win. They spread rumors.

But you have this one friend that’s just loyal. He or she accepts you. They make you feel good, but also push and challenge you. They tell you in your face that you shouldn’t have done what you just did, that it wasn’t cool. And they don’t talk behind your back, but directly to your face. Those loyal friends are valuable.

So how do you find these types of friends?

Raise Your Standards

It’s very simple; raise your standards on who becomes a great friend to you.

Here’s how.

Be Selective

You raise your standards by being selective on who you want your friends to be.

So how do you become selective? You have to be around other people, because studies have shown that people with larger networks live longer. They have more people that support them that say things like, “Hey, we believe in you. We’re praying for you. Everything’s going to be okay.” You get 75 text messages when you’re sick, which is better than getting one. You feel good, and want to live longer. My father, at 74-years old, is an example. He looks at his five grandkids and says, “I want to live 10 more years, even though I’ve had 13 heart attacks, three angiograms, three angioplasties, and three stents in my heart.”  When you have a larger network of friends, you want to live longer.

Choose Great Friends Who Have Common Goals and Values

You need to find friends that share common goals. If you have aspirations, they also have similar aspirations. Find friends that have common interests. If you like sports, they like sports. If you like politics, they like politics.

This doesn’t mean they think exactly like you. I have friends that are Democrats, and friends that are Republicans. I have friends that are Independent. Some of my friends don't believe in God. I have other friends that believe in God. Some of my friends are Christian. I have friends that are Jewish. I have friends that are Atheist, Agnostic. That part doesn't necessarily dictate my friendship with them, as much if they also believe in living a life with character, and integrity, as that means we have the same values.

Find a Friend Who Celebrates Your Victories

When it comes to how to choose great friends, another thing I would add is somebody that celebrates your victories with you. It means when you’re winning, they don’t always go back and talk about their own victories. For instance, if I say, “You won’t believe what happened to my kid today. Oh my gosh, it was so cool,” and your friend says, “Well let me tell you what my kid did!” C’mon. I’m telling you about my kid, man. Just celebrate with me. I want someone that’s interested and says, “Oh my gosh!”

Quality Matters

When you are a great friend, other people will be the same to you as well. This is one area of life where quality matters more than quantity.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to have a large network of friends. When my sister’s husband, Mr. Sabetimani passed away, they had to do the funeral multiple times because of how many people wanted to attend. He was a Walter Cronkite of the Persian community. He was so kind. Everyone loved this man. He was one of the Shah’s favorite people. My brother-in-law, Siamak is like a saint. He led the entire thing. I was so proud of him and the way he represented his father properly.

But here was a man that died with a large network of people that cared for him, as well as some that were very close to him. That’s a really big part of life. If you’re going to make millions or even billions as an entrepreneur, but you have no one to talk to about it, and no one to share your struggles and victories with, it’s a very lonely life. What is the purpose of that?

So just as it’s important to marry the right person, it’s just as important to befriend the right people that give you the right type of peer pressure, and challenge you to improve and grow.

When you choose great friends, make sure you keep them for a very, very long time, hopefully until the day you die.

If you have questions or comments, comment on the bottom, and if you haven’t already subscribed to my YouTube channel, click on the button below to subscribe.

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