Community. Such an important word and such a big part of my mission. It ties into most everything I speak about, as the bonds of community allow us to create great change, together.
Lately, I have focused on what makes a community strong and beneficial versus tribal, separatist, narrow-minded, and ultimately, destructive and ineffective. Furthermore, I am determined to understand how I, as a leader within my communities, can ensure that we remain true to our values.
I believe the answer lies in the saying, “Make for yourself a teacher and acquire for yourself a friend.” In my interpretation, this saying suggests that having a friend is more important than having a teacher, but why? A teacher will give you advice, which you may or may not take. A true friend, however, will give you truth over flattery, will call you out when you behave poorly, and will push you to return to your values. A true friend will redirect you back to the best version of yourself, even when it’s difficult for them to do so.
One of our biggest problems today is that we constantly surround ourselves with “yes” people, with those who appease our ego or irrationality because it’s easier. While there may be no ill-intent in their actions, they do not constitute a real friend, the kind who will challenge us and help us grow beyond, and despite, our weaknesses. Though many of us have a surplus of people who make us feel good, we are in a shortage of friends who help us be good.
Creating change requires ambition, stamina, and a willingness to be wrong. It requires us to practice radical honesty and humility and to surround ourselves with those who do the same. These are not easy tasks, yet, they are necessary to create the change we, and our communities, need and deserve. After all, none of us want to be likened to “The Emperors New Clothes”. To spare him any embarrassment or to avoid retribution, no one told the poor emperor that he was parading around naked. Clearly, that did no good for anyone.
So, I would like to suggest that all of us, especially those in positions of leadership, include at least one person in our communities who is committed to these principles. Who we trust has our best interest in mind, who loves us unconditionally, and who will tell us when we’ve begun to fall off the path. Moreover, I suggest that we listen to them objectively, with an open mind, and with our egos set aside. Enough “yes” people in our lives, for someone who really loves you is willing to tell you the truth!
~Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community