While quietly eating our dinner at a restaurant Friday night, we were interrupted by a group of rowdy women. They were laughing and taking pictures of each other. One woman was laughing so hard she was crying. They looked to be in their late 50’s, early 60’s. I wondered how long they had been friends.
Over the holidays, I found the time to be with some friends I had not seen for months. We always end our time together with the promise to meet more often. Then each year, we share excuses explaining why that promise was broken.
Putting friendships on the back burner when we get overly busy with work is one of our greatest mistakes. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Story of Success (watch the short videos on the page), successful people do not make it on their own. Gladwell states, “…no one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone.”
Not only can our friends open doors and connect us with other people, we need friends to dialogue with and sometimes to just be silent with as we come to understand how our lives are changing. Also, we need trusted sounding boards and feedback from people we love to help us stay on track.
The time you spend with friends is as important as the time you spend on work. There is no need to “tough it out on your own.” Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you are truly committed to creating amazing results that impact your workplace and beyond, then you need to access the wisdom and support of others.
Gathering a community of support is not a luxury you can put off until you have time someday. Establishing and maintaining your network is a critical step in your growth process. Besides, it makes for a more enjoyable dinner when you can laugh until you cry with dear friends.