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Pyramid of Success: Friendship

“Strive to build a team filled with camaraderie and respect: Comrades-in-arms.” ~John Wooden

“I can’t deny the fact that you like me! You like me!” ~Sally Field

When I was still an education professor, I would warn my students that there would be a time during the semester that they may not like me because I would be challenging them to grow and stretch their preconceived ideas about teaching and how students learn.  I assured them that it was okay to not like me but that I would still be there to help them succeed as students and teachers-in-the-making.  My goal was to create a community of learners–comrades-in-arms, if you will–who understood that all of us in the classroom were responsible for the learning that took place in it.  A couple of times I failed miserably at that goal and upon reflection it was because I was feeling insecure from being at a different university and sought my students’ approval instead of standing in my role as teacher and mentor.  Most of the time, however, our classes would be filled with an amazingly positive energy that filled me with awe and humility that I got to be part of the students’ learning process.

I think as women, we are at our weakest when we are trying to be liked.  We are such relational creatures that we view being non-liked as a character flaw that must be fixed and we become contortionists trying to be liked by everyone.  So much drama in our lives revolve around being liked and/or trying to make clear that we don’t like someone else (Junior High, anyone?).

What if we, instead, focused on that old-fashioned notion of being respected?  Including self-respect?  Respect has its foundation in one’s character.  And character is built upon holding a set of values and being true to them.  There are a lot of people with whom I disagree on various issues but I have such high respect for them that I treasure their friendships.

After the pattern making final exam last night, one of my favorite classmates and I were joking around and she commented that she is a slacker.  I told her to get away from me because I only let the cream of the crop hang out with me.  We were joking with each other but as I was thinking about it later, I realized that one of the reasons I don’t have a lot of “friendship drama” in my life is because I am judicious about who I hang out with and my friends truly are the cream of the crop.

I’m thinking that respect, including self-respect, is the foundation for amazing friendships.  Thoughts?

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  1. Great topic – I agree with you so much Dr. Julie – I don’t want you to think I am being ubsequious, but I just agree. I just read that book “what French women know”, and while I thought it wasn’t organized really well, and it is mostly fluff – it was interesting to think that there are so many other cultures out there where women are not out to win a popularity contest. I as an American woman definately find myself in this kind of mind set/trap as well. I was just talking about this with my husband tonight too!!! I was saying, if you walk into a room and send out that ‘like me, like me!!!” energy, for the most part people with loathe you, unless you live in the midwest or something or hang out with really nice people, but if you approach a group with a ‘I don’t give a damn” feeling everyone will be sort of intrigued. Anyway, it was an interesting read, and after I read it I was noticing all the things she said about American culture – like we have to agree to get along. Even with friends who have different political beleifs, it is very important that we agree about what star is attractive, places to go that are interesting, etc.

    Anyway, back to character – again I agree. If you are wishy washy with others and yourself – why would anyone feel comfortable with you? When you know where you stand, you feel confident. Thank you for this reminder.


  2. No matter who you are, you have the issue of personal relationships to meet. I don’t have a lot of close friends or an active social life. Instead I have an agenda of activities that are important to me, including membership in groups dedicated to developing womanhood (or character). I appreciate my “alone” time, which I need, and while I used to lament not having a circle of close friends, I now love my independence and ability to make my own decisions without undue influence.

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