7 things you need to require of yourself and your friends if you really want to level up

we all want to win at life. but what happens when those closest to us are the ones preventing us from becoming the best versions of ourselves? how do we cope with the reality that sometimes, those we refuse to let go are those secretly praying for our downfall? lauryn hill told us on ‘miseducation’ that we couldn’t win if we weren’t right within – and that’s entirely true. but there’s a catch. even if you are right within, you’ll never win (in life or anything else for that matter) if those closest to you want you to lose. that’s why you gotta watch the company you keep and be mindful of who you refer to as your friend. and to help you with that, here are some traits to consider requiring of yourself and those around you so you can flourish. 

7). be goal oriented. 

simple and plain, it’s problematic if the people around you don’t have their own goals. this is primarily because they won’t be able to effectively motivate and encourage you to actualize your own aspirations if they don’t have any of their own. plus, when your friends have things of their own to pour into, it’s easier for them to understand that you won’t always be able to “turn up” with them. sometimes, you’ll need to buckle down and get in the zone…and your friends need to be ok with that, understanding that you’re just trying to build a life for yourself that you don’t need a vacation from, ya feel me? 

6). possess unwavering loyalty. 

in any friendship, honesty and loyalty are key – without that, you’ve got nothing. and when it comes to loyalty, there is no gray area. it’s black and white. you’re either loyal or you’re not. period. but a lot of people don’t see it that way. nowadays, people are so conditional. they’re loyalty is contingent upon how they feel about you at the moment and who they’re around. that’s weak. get you some friends who gon’ go to bat for you regardless of who’s around and what’s being discussed. why? because loyalty isn’t a matter of convenience. it’s a matter of principle. 

5). bring something to the table. 

in case you haven’t already heard, “free-loading” season is over. that means gone are the days of allowing people to withdraw from us financially, mentally, creatively, professionally and every other word ending in -ally without making any deposits in our life. people will sit up here and reach out to you every day regarding some sort of crisis. one day, their tire blew out and they need you to cash app them some money. the next day, they want you look over their resume and give them feedback for a job they’re applying to. the day after that, they want to “pick your brain” about something related to your professional expertise. it just never ends. and, don’t get me wrong. if you’re like me, you don’t mind helping any of your legitimate friends. but, i also believe in reciprocity. you don’t want to be the friend taking from the table but not contributing to it – your friends will end up limiting your access to them. trust me. 

4). know when to say what you wanna hear vs. what you need to hear. 

friends should be some of your biggest supporters, but not your biggest fans. for me, a supporter is someone who believes in me, my vision, and my ability. whereas, a fan is someone who is infatuated with the thought of me and the way in which my vision comes into fruition. if you surround yourself with fans disguised as friends, they won’t be willing to offend you—they’ll only tell you what they think you want to hear. that doesn’t do you any good long term, though. you need friends who aren’t afraid to keep it real with you, under all circumstances. but at the same time, your friends should operate in discernment, knowing when to tell you what you want to hear and when to tell you what you need to hear because there’s a time and place for everything, you feel me? some of my most challenging moments of growth stemmed from moments of clarity that were made possible because my friends were honest with me. you should make sure your friends do the same. why? you don’t need to be surrounded with “yes” men and women. that’s weak. 

3). realize the importance of listening to understand and not to respond. 

sometimes, you just want to let stuff out. you don’t always need your friends to reply. you just need them to listen. you ever been there? me too. good friends know when they need to respond and when they need to just give you the space to let things out. everything doesn’t deserve a response. and if you’re calling your friends to vent and they somehow always seem to make it about them and what they’ve experienced, take note and teach them how to do better by how you treat them. because listening to understand is sometimes more important than listening to respond. real talk. 

2). understand that a win for you is a win for them. 

you can always decipher the friends that are actually supportive and happy for your successes from the ones who are just trying to stick around be part of the “come up.” and what’s more is, some of your so-called friends secretly cringe at your success. it makes them uncomfortable. your success is despicable to them. it makes them feel threatened. but lemme make it easy for you right quick, any friend that’s jealous of you and can’t applaud when you win, isn’t a friend. as a matter of fact, they’re a straight up hater. don’t lose sleep over them. they’ve probably been free-loading off you for some time now anyway, content with the waddling in the overflow of your success instead of going out and making their own.  and more often than not, we be out here letting stuff like that slide due to misconceptions of what it means to be loyal. don’t trip, though. just observe, take note, and move accordingly. 

1). be able to pray. 

we weren’t created to do life alone. and when life hits us hard (as it often does), we need friends that are just as capable of praying with us as they are praying for us. a praying friend will hold you accountable in your walk with Christ, love you without conditions, pour into you and help you get back on course when you go astray. and as a believer, this quality in a friend makes the world of difference. forreal.