Though it hasn’t always been so, I currently consider myself to be a really, really great friend. Not because of some inherent talent or special ability, but because throughout my life I have always been blessed with the absolute best friends that a guy could ever ask for and over the years, I have learned from their examples. From my siblings and my elementary school buddies, to my homies in high school, my fraternity brothers in college, my corporate co-workers, and my ministry partners now, I have been extraordinarily blessed with positive influences who have taught me what being a best friend is supposed to look like.
Here are just a few of the universal lessons I’ve learned from them:
Best Friends Show Up
Simply put, best friends show up. Whether you’re having a little get together or you need help moving, a best friend will never leave you hanging. Regardless of how inconvenient or what else they might have going on, a best friend is going to be there to support you. This includes everything from giving you a ride to the airport super early in the morning, to being your wingman and entertaining your date’s best friend, all you have to do is ask.
Even when there isn’t anything special going on, a best friend still shows up, just to kick it. This could include standing in the back yard shooting the breeze, sitting on the couch watching SportsCenter, or going out for a bite to eat. Best friends aren’t fancy with each other.
Best Friends Help Themselves
Since best friends are the same as family, they make themselves at home when they come over. They don’t wait to be served like some sort of outsider. They help themselves: To a sandwich from the kitchen, to a beer out of the fridge, to the tools in the shed, to the clothes in your closet, and to the cars in your driveway. They let you know they borrowed something after the fact, so as not to be disrespectful, but they don’t have to ask beforehand.
It’s not like you were going to say “no,” so it doesn’t really matter anyways.
Best Friends Tell the Truth
No matter if you’re interested in hearing their opinion or not, best friends are going to let you have it. Whether it’s in regard to having something stuck in your teeth or wearing an ugly hat, they’re not going to let anything slide. This is especially true when it comes to more serious matters.
Though I’m not proud of it, I’ve gotten myself into my share of compromising situations. Fortunately for me, I’ve always had a best friend close by who was willing to show me some tough love and tell me to get my act together. Likewise, I have been the recipient of many phone calls where one of my best friends was in a difficult situation and needed to hear the hard truth. Not because they were oblivious to the situation they were in, more so just because they needed to hear someone else say it.
“Man, O, I can always count on you to not pull any punches.” they would say.
“Isn’t that why you called? If you wanted to hear somebody placate you, you knew better than to come to me.” I would respond.
“Damn straight. Thanks, brother.”
Best Friends Stand Up
In addition to standing up TO each other, best friends have no problem standing up FOR each other as well.
I’ve actually never been in a legit fist fight in my life. I like to say it’s because “I’m a lover, not a fighter”, but it has more to do with my ability to talk my way out of trouble more than anything. But there was this one time…
It was my nineteenth birthday and a couple of my best friends and another guy from Utah had driven out to California to visit me at school. After a wild Friday and Saturday night of debauchery, we ended up in the parking lot outside my dorm when the other guy decided he didn’t like me very much and threw a punch at me. Since it was my birthday, I had celebrated the most and was in no condition to fight. Lucky for me, Tyler (my best friend since 8th grade) was there to take care of the situation.
As soon as the other guy cocked his fist back, Tyler knew I was about to get sucker punched. Rather than just stand back and watch it happen, Tyler proactively punched him in the nose and dropped him to the ground. Thanks to his unwavering loyalty and cat-like reflexes, I passed out from too many beers that night rather than from a concussion.
Best Friends Share
Best friends believe wholeheartedly in the mantra “Sabe mejor cuando se comparte” – “It tastes better when you share”. This is 100% true regarding your grilled steaks and your cooler full of beer, but it is also true of your life struggles and accomplishments as well. Trying to deal with tragedy or misfortune by yourself sucks. When you allow your best friends to support you in your troubles, the pain literally is easier to bare. Not because they take it from you, but because they help you maintain a proper perspective and help you see that though you may have suffered a loss, not ALL is lost.
The same is true in your successes. When you a get a new job, car, house, degree, or relationship, your best friends are ecstatic for you! They love you and revel in your happiness.
Best Friends Let You Pay
Countless times, I have had my best friends stick me with the check and say, “Thanks bro!” to which I smile and pay the bill while they laugh. To be fair, I’m sure I’ve returned the favor my share of times. Though it may not be funny all the time, it is always a pleasure to pick up the tab for your best friends.
On the other hand, you can tell that you’re not best friends with someone if they won’t let you pick up the bill. Subconsciously, it has to do with a lack of trust, and they don’t want to feel indebted to you. Why else would someone rob you the pleasure of buying them a meal?
Best Friends Make You Better
I first met the NAKs (aka the Gentlemen of Nu Alpha Kappa Fraternity) the weekend before classes started my freshman year of college. As I never had any interest in joining a fraternity, I was definitely surprised that I got along with all the NAKs so well. Having four older brothers of my own, I consider myself an expert in brotherhood and I can spot an imposter a mile away. Surprisingly, the NAKs were different than the traditional fraternities that I encountered. Not only were they a “non-traditional, Latino-based” fraternity, but when they talked about brotherhood, they really meant it.
After hanging out with NAKs for the majority of the Fall Quarter, with great hesitation I went through the recruitment process (known as Rush week). After Rush, I very reluctantly decided to start the initiation process (known as pledgeship). My reluctance wasn’t because I was wary of the guys, on the contrary, I thought all of the NAKs were badass. From the first time I had met them they had taken me under the proverbial wings and included me in their activities and parties and introduced me to their network of friends.
At the time, their influence and mentorship was appreciated, but as I have reflected back on the impact that they had on my life, it is insane to think of my college experience without them. From the endless leadership responsibilities and the epic road trips, to the countless volunteer opportunities and the non-stop socials, being a NAK absolutely changed my life for the better. Not just while I was in college, either. Over the past fifteen years since my college graduation, I have been able to reference what I learned from NAK hundreds and hundreds of times.
Had it not been for the bros actively reaching out to me and taking me under their wings, I wouldn’t have given joining NAK a shot as I was wary of negative stereotypes that traditional fraternities carry. Fortunately, the NAKs were all aware of the negative stereotypes, but knew the positive impact it had on their lives and the potential impact it could have on mine. So, they went out of their way to share their experiences. In retrospect, it was an invitation of a lifetime that I am eternally grateful for.
As such, whenever I discover something that I am passionate about, I do my best to share it with as many people as I can. If it had a positive effect on my life, then hopefully others will benefit from it as well. Beyond just sharing, our talents and passions are best served when we are willing to mentor others and help them navigate through all of the pitfalls and roadblocks that we encountered on our journey, so they can then take our understanding and accomplishments to the next level.
When the NAKs recruited me to join their family, it wasn’t because they individually wanted something from me. Instead, it was because someone at some time had reached out to them and given them the life altering gift of brotherhood. They just wanted to pay it forward. Likewise, every time I have the opportunity extend a helping hand to someone and guide them along a path I have already traveled, I do my best to treat them the same way the NAKs treated me.
Best Friends Never Miss a Beat
The band O.A.R. has a song called “We’ll Pick Up Where We Left Off” that talks about best friends having to part ways. Countless times, I have found myself at the end of an epic vacation with my best friends, not wanting to say goodbye, but fully understanding that it’s only a matter of time until we do it again.
Of all the lifelong friends that I have, nobody is better at this then Jerry (aka Cheeks). Having been best friends since we were 10 years old, we have parted ways incessantly over the past thirty years. But each time we’ve met back up, whether it’s been ten days or ten months since our last get together, it’s just like old times. Yeah, we may have picked up a couple of pounds and a ton more responsibility over the years, but we do our best to act like we haven’t lost a step (or two).
Posifocus Mantra #7
Treat Everyone Like Your Best Friend.
How many best friends do you have? Would you like more best friends? If you don’t need any more best friends, perhaps you know someone who needs a best friend?
Catch up with your old best friends and go out of your way to try and make a new best friend. Teach people how best friends treat each other by being the example, without expecting anything in return.
Join the Posifocus Group and share your thoughts and experiences with the Posifocus Community! Use the hashtag #bestfriends.