As readers of 'The Joy Letter' now know, I have the distinct pleasure of joining Suzanne as writer-in-residence, contributing both to the bi-monthly letter and this delight-of-a-blog.
Who am I? My friends call me 'a,' short for Andrea (Lee), and I'm a writer, or at least I like to think so, most days. And I'm a business coach and consultant too. You know, it's what pays the rent. But in this first post the thing I'm most identifying with is the word friend.
I know friendship is an old-fashioned word these days. We don't talk about it much at all, especially on a business level. But what's bringing me immense joy these days is exactly that - friendship.
Have you thought about friendship lately? Do you have great friends? Any new ones, along with the ones that go 'way back?' How about in your work - have you risked becoming more than just 'work people' to anyone lately? Like the seasons, I think every year should bring a new crop of friends, ones that reflect back to you where you are in your life - how you're growing and changing with the days.
As a business owner, this is a new discovery for me. It used to be that I thought friendship belonged in partitioned-off section of my life, designated for 'after hours' when all the work was done. But here are two things I've learned of late about friendship:
(1) You can mix friendship with work, for surprising effects.
Miuch like when you add the pinch of salt to a meal, a good friend in your business can make everything come alive. The problem is, many of us don't use friendship as a guide in our work. But what if we did?
What if this week you decided to follow the energy of friendship in your work - gave a real smile to a customer as you said hello or asked a genuine question with a desire to find common ground? How about pausing to connect on a human level with a joint venture partner before diving into the nuts and bolts?
The thing about Suzanne and I, in our new business partnerships...is that I liked her from the start. We began as strangers, drawn to share desserts and tea a couple years in a row, and followed that friendship energy, not any sort of business agenda really.
But it's a funny thing - based on a foundation of friendship, we've found all sorts of wins in our work that we couldn't have predicted. My energy to expand on Suzanne's great work on Joy allows us to keep this moving - where previously it may well have disappeared. Suzanne's affection for what I do for coaches makes it possible for me to take a break - grow myself creatively. Shared joy in this case has really become triple and quadruple the joy, not just double.
So who's a friend you think you might like to do more with, perhaps on a project, as a business partner, or on a shared dream? How could a new purposeful activity embellish your already joyful friendship energy?
Who's someone you're working with and how might you enrichen your relationship by exploring a friendship?
For those of you with websites and ezines, what if you treated the people who read your newsletter, or blog, or listened to your podcast, as sincerely great friends? Look out for your readers by recommending fabulous tools and resources, just like a friend would. Point out possibilities and make connections, as a friend would. Even helping out when times are tough, and ask the tough questions, the way a great friend would.
(2) The quality (number, type, etc.) of your friendships can tell you a lot about yourself - where you are right now, and where you're going.
I don't know about you, but I just love the way Suzanne has helped us all navigate using Joy as a guide. We really *can* live the life of our dreams using just five simple words: 'I want to feel good!' (Thank you Wayne Dyer!)
But that's the thing - sometimes former friendships can start to *not* feel so good. They are constraining instead of opening; they small-ize us because of what these friends think of us, instead of giving us permission to do and be anything we dream of; sometimes these outgrown friendships even begin to feel like anchors around our neck - they sap our energy.
Are there friends in your life right now that are doing these things to you?
What if there was a way to say a graceful goodbye, and free your energy up to become the next iteration of you?
Shedding old friendships and the growth of new ones is a reflection of our growth. When the energy in a friendship becomes misaligned, the relationship becomes heavy. Perhaps you've come to value different things. The things you find important aren't even on your friend's radar. How can you continue to have a thriving energetic communion if this is the case?
Just as your tastes change and you throw some clothes out after awhile, you begin writing a new genre, or paint in a new medium, friendship has a life cycle. If you look carefully at your past relationships, I'll bet you discover that your friendships were a reflection of where you were at, in that moment of time.
Accordingly, let's be happily purposeful about our friendships shall we? If you've been feeling at all lonely in your life, make a pact to get out into new social circles and pay attention to who you're drawn to...again, this is a reflection of you.
Maybe you've never been attracted to the very ambitious type - successful and surrounded by others admiration. But now, maybe this person is fascinating to you - the chemistry is right - you click and a new friendship - suitable for the you of today, is born.
If you let it, this kind of 'follow the friendship' energy will lead you to more joy and give you more energy.
So do we have a deal? Will you make a point to consciously allow more friendship into your life?
I can hardly wait to hear how friendship has changed your life.
And hey, Suzanne? You're off on vacation awhile, but when you're back, I know you'll be looking for how I christened this new beginning on Blast O' Joy. I hope you like it, and you know what? I meant every word:
Shared joy is double the joy and I thank you so very much for your friendship.
Recommended: Take 5 minutes to try the Likeability Factor quiz by author Tim Sanders and see just how friendship-ready you are. It's a great one to send to your friends too.
P.S. Until we figure out how to activate my guest author status, I'll post under Suzanne's name. Ha, I promise not to smear your reputation, S.