I read an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that reinforced for me how friendship can be a powerful motivator in achieving goals. It was about two boys who were graduating from high school and heading to college this fall with their hearts and hopes set on attending medical and law school. But their story is different. They both have overcome almost insurmountable odds to graduate in a city where fewer than two thirds of its students complete high school.
They live in Camden, New Jersey, a city that’s infamous for its corruption, urban decay, and sky high crime rate. They come from broken homes, and their lives have been rough. But they’ve been close friends since fourth grade and have been there for each other when times got really tough and they felt like dropping out of school. They both said if they didn’t have each other, they wouldn’t have made it.
That their close relationship was one of the biggest motivators to keeping them going is a powerful testament to the power of friendship.
I think we can all remember a time in our lives when a friend has gotten us through a tough spot or has encouraged us to persevere when we were about to give up on something.
That can apply in the workplace, too. In fact, many of my closest friends today are people I used to work with in some capacity over the years.
Most of us spend a lot of time at work. So, inevitably, you find a few comrades you prefer to chat with in the hallways or over lunch, and have fun with on the clock or after hours.
During that “downtime,” as your friendship develops, you cover a lot of ground, both on the professional and personal fronts. Whether celebrating an accomplishment, commiserating about a setback, or discussing how to deal with a difficult co-worker or family member, some great ideas emerge, sound advice is given and taken, and great things can happen as a result.
Eventually, as you come to value the personal and professional judgment of your colleagues, some of those casual bonds end up becoming much stronger—and even greater things can happen. New ideas to old problems, new products and services, new positions, new companies…the list goes on.
So don’t underestimate the power of friendship and the positive effects it can have.
You can read more about the boys I was referring to in, “In Camden, a lesson in the power of friendship.”