What you need to know:
- If you spend the most productive and energetic years of your life with friends whose favourite pastime is living imaginary lives on social media, chances that you will invest in building a real life grounded in your deep passions is slim.
- Our reflection today will, therefore, begin here: Who has access to you, and what influence do they bring to you or to your career? More specifically, as an ambitious career young adult, who is ‘your squad’?
Dear ambitious millennial and Gen Z, “you are the average of five people you spend the most time with”.
This oft-cited statement, whether empirically proven or not, points to a critical reality. That our friendships play an important role in moulding who we are, and what we can become.
If you spend the most productive and energetic years of your life with friends whose favourite pastime is living imaginary lives on social media, chances that you will invest in building a real life grounded in your deep passions is slim.
You may also not invest in real relationships and neither build the skills you need to advance in your career.
Our reflection today will, therefore, begin here: Who has access to you, and what influence do they bring to you or to your career? More specifically, as an ambitious career young adult, who is ‘your squad’?
The year is still young and, therefore, a good time for reminders. Audit your list of friends, and ditch the junk. It is impossible to fly high if you are carrying unnecessary luggage, right?
A sense of belonging is central to our identities. Friends we can count on when the tide of life gets tumultuous is an important anchor. For the ambitious, upwardly mobile young person, your friends play the additional role of helping you soar in your career.
And while I am not about to ask you to drop your fun-loving friends (please, enjoy your youth), I am here to say, there are no two sets of you, so make friendships that align with your professional ambitions.
At the risk of coming across as dogmatic, a friend is someone who adds value to your life. I will let you define what value means for you. For the ambitious millennial and Gen Z, however, I will submit that value is something that drives you forward, propels you, challenges you.
And as Condoleezza Rice (66th US Secretary of State) would say, if you find yourself in the company of people who say “amen” to everything that you say, find another company.
Make strategic friendship, if you listen to commencement, valedictorian, prize acceptance speeches and so on, one common thread underlines them. While we have one person being recognised, they didn’t make it on their own.
There is an army – friends, family, champions and advocates, among others. This has always challenged me to think bigger when it comes to who I give room in my life.
When you think of the greatest professional achievement you hope to achieve in the next 10 years, whom do you need to achieve that feat? And what is stopping you from accessing and connecting with these people?
In my books, friendship starts with shared values, mutual trust and an authentic connection. A good friendship is a give and take. So, are you willing to take on new habits that do not align with your goals just because you must call someone a friend?
Have you considered that the world has at least seven billion people and there are dozens of people out there who will accept you exactly the way you are, without having to sacrifice your career focus and ambitions to be their friend?
Are you and your friends held together by serious ambition or are you only friends because you know dark secrets about each other? Which friendship are you still holding onto that has run its cause and it is time to move?
My point is, make strategic friendships. The friends you make today are the people your children will refer to as connections in future (that is not a meme, guys).
Think about your friendships, think about the why of your friendships and be intentional about your friendships.
Sacrificing your ambitions on the altar of misaligned friendships will likely boil down to regrets.