Drawing a Line Between Our Connections

The greatest form of wealth can’t be inflated away.

As the folks in Washington debate who’s next on their list to get a slug of freshly printed money… and as the stock market shrugs off one of the market’s greatest interruptions ever… it’s time to measure what we have in a different way.

Last Friday, our good pal Mark Ford mused about the idea of working with friends.

It’s a bad idea, he concluded, never to be done again.

We never would have guessed it’d be a controversial topic. Mark’s piece was filled with real-life experience, wisdom and old-fashioned common sense.

But nearly as soon as we published it, the comments rolled in.

Readers wanted our opinion on it. With Connections holding great weight in our life-improving Triad, folks were eager to test our resolve.

Do we think two of our most cherished ideals – friendship and work – should coexist?

You’re not going to like our answer.

To get there, though, we must train our brains to think differently. We must bust the shackles of our cultural norms and see things for what they really are. We must understand who we are.

We’ve always chuckled at the fact that we’ll wave to the man in the truck on a slow, winding back road… but get out to the two-lane state road and everybody’s a stranger. Take too long at the light and the same man will surely get a honk… and maybe a finger.

And we chuckle when we think that we don’t strike up a conversation with the man at the local gas pump… but if we’re on a trip far from home and find a fellow who lives one town over, we’ll chat until we feel like old friends.

In France, after all, any American is a friend. But bring him back to America and he’s just another person in our way.

We imagine being on Mars someday, excited to chat with a fellow earthling. His cultural and religious differences won’t seem so significant then.

And so it is with friendship.

The definition is as broad and winding as any in our culture.

Some folks have tried to define the word. Others have tried to categorize the various levels of friendship.

They’ve all failed.

Friendships are like blades of grass. Some are short. Some are long. Some die. Some thrive. And if we look close enough, we see that some aren’t grass at all. They’re merely weeds hiding among the blades.

But here’s what we know.

Friends make us better. They push us. They listen to us. They give us wise advice.

They laugh with us. They cry with us.

Friends – our Triad tells us – complete us. Without them, we’d be less.

But wait… isn’t the same true of a good boss?

They make us stronger. They make us better. They give advice. They listen. And the good ones even care about where we want to go.

So we should work with friends, then, right?

Nope. Not at all.

Don’t Get Personal

Like all good things worthy of our mind’s time, there are a slew of caveats.

The best way to lose a friend, after all, is to hire him. Making friends at work is one thing – the relationship already has a clear border around it. Bringing friends to work is a whole different mess.

Don’t do it.

As Mark proved in his essay, it leads to emotional decisions, bad choices and, most of the time, both the business and the friendship suffering.

Imagine if we traded stocks only with our pals. It’d be a disaster. The market’s efficiencies would vanish.

It’s the same way when you bring your friends to work.

Don’t do it.

But what about friendships that blossom on the job? Nobody wants to work with or for folks who are, well, unfriendly.

Ahh… this is where wisdom and maturity are so important.

First, while these are often strong friendships – many will last a lifetime – many of them are not. It’s like the old classmate you run into while on vacation. Again, you’ll be excited to see each other far from home. But get back home and it’s a different story.

That’s not callous; it’s reality.

In fact, these sorts of 9-to-5 relationships should be held as the ideal in the workplace. Anything else leads to faulty, biased decisions that will not only affect the job but also cause trouble outside of it.

This issue shows that, indeed, there are different types of friendships, all with their own borders and boundaries. They’re flexible and impervious. But they must be respected… and, like a good lawn, they must be nurtured and cared for.

If not, the weeds will take over.

A Different Question

But here’s what we think is the true crux of this conversation…

This topic is not about friendship. Not at all.

It’s about the lack of it, and our culture’s general acceptance of things that are unfriendly.

Ban those things from your life – treat everybody as if they’re a friend – and you’ll soon see this topic in a fresh new way.

Done right, it should seem impossible not to have friends at work… or at the gas station… or in a traffic jam.

That’s just our advice to a few hundred thousand friends…

Like what you’re reading? Let us know your thoughts here.

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