At a recent gathering of leaders, we were challenged to consider whether in our life journey, we have intentionally cultivated relationships with at least four people who we would consider our do or die friends. Ride or die friends are the kind who will be present by your side at the most critical of moments. The kind who will defend you in your absence like their life depended on it. The kind who will not fear to tell the truth as it is when necessary.
They’re the ones who are there through thick and thin, over months and years and decades, across miles and surrounded by memories. That kind of deep, lasting friendship is one of the most beautiful gifts in life.
I remember in high school, I had a friend who would regularly develop a list of her top ten friends in school. The list was so fluid and dependant on how one treated her in a particular week or class lesson. The lesson though was she was clear about who her ride or die friends. It is possible that we have a community of people we consider as our friends, but when we sift through maybe not all make it to our ride or die list.
When we were younger it was much easier to make friends and imagine that they would be our friends for life. Along the way, life happens, water under the bridge and many of our friends fall through the cracks. As kids the requirements as to who makes it to your friendship list are few and not complicated. As we grow older, a lot of dynamics and complexities come into play in the relationship. It is no wonder that some relationships status on face book is neither single nor married but complicated.
In the gathering I mentioned earlier, we were tasked to embark on a journey of finding, nurturing and cultivating our ride or die friendships. We were cautioned that it shall not be an instant discovery like instant coffee, but a process of careful, intentional selection and watering of those friendships.
Here are my five simple nuggets I’ve learned in my lifetime about cultivating friendships that last through the changing seasons:
1. Be clear about values. Often times in organizations we go through the process of clarifying our value system. Values are a set of principles or ideals that drive our behavior. One cannot build a lasting relationship with others unless the values are in sync. It is commonly said that show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. Questions to consider are whether your friends are the kind you would not introduce to your mother?
2. Shared Vision and purpose. There are friends who we have had to drop along the way due to the loss of shared vision and purpose. Our ride or die friends cannot be headed north while we are headed south. It will definitely cause a lot of friction and lead to conflict. Our ride or die friends must be those who we are on a related mission.
3. Regular Connection. Making time for friends seems like a no-brainer. And in many ways, it should be. But in the real-world, sometimes having any time for yourself is tough, let alone a social life. One thing they don’t warn you about is that you actually have to make a conscious effort to plan and see your friends. With technology and new applications, it is easier to connect with friends now spread across the country and even the world.
5. Be a ride or die friend. Friendship is a two way street. We have all experienced ‘friends’ that take, take and take some more. To develop at least four ride or die friends, one must first be one. What investments are you making into this relationship that one will reap from in the future.
4. Celebrate the victories, the milestones, the holidays. A healthy dose of celebration sprinkled into our daily lives can help keep joy at the core of your friendships. New jobs, promotions, engagements, baby announcements, thanksgiving are all moments to get celebrate together.
As I reflect on my journey, I will pray fully bring this aspect before the almighty, the author of relationships to guide me.