I've been wrestling a lot lately with my friends. (Let me rephrase because that either sounds sexy or childish, depending on your orientation and how hot you think my circle of friends is).
What I mean is, I've been wrestling with who should be in my friend group. Who are the people I should associate myself with and, maybe more importantly, who needs to get cut off?
I haven't always been the best tag team partner or teammate. There are times when I've let my pride keep me from investing in potentially profitable and productive relationships. I've thought of myself as better, more talented, not in need of help around some people who are light years ahead of where I am now. Had I been willing or able to see the big picture -- which is difficult when you can see past your own bullshit -- I would be in a different position today.
There's a lesson in there somewhere about not judging a book by its cover. But it's deeper than that. Once you get past the cover, how long are you supposed to keep reading?
So much of who we are and what we can accomplish is based on who we know and what level of influence we have over them, and vice versa. Having talent is important to find success in any industry; but it doesn't matter as much as the relationships you form along the way. Now I'm not one of these kumbaya dudes that thinks we can solve all our problems by finding a friend and hugging it out...
...but I have learned that, without the right crew surrounding you, it is virtually impossible to be your best self.
I've been cutting people out lately and not even telling them that they're cut out. They don't need to know. The truth is, if they cared, they wouldn't have to be cut off in the first place.
Any amount of energy you spend chasing people who don't want to be caught is wasted energy. If someone isn't interested in you, whether that's for sex or a job or a book club, move on. Period. Instead, spend that time you would've dedicated to them replacing them with 5 other people who actually fuck with you.
Pro wrestling is full of lessons about the importance of finding your people. Often a WWE Superstar's success comes with a little help from his or her friends. Whether it's to distract a referee so you can kick your opponent in the balls or it's to help get you over with the crowd using their skills on the microphone, your associates can make it a lot easier for you to do your job.
And, if you play your role properly, you make it easier for them to be successful as well. It's a win-win.
So how do we find our people? And, more importantly, how do we be the people we want to find? As I wrestle with this for myself, I've found three guiding principles that are shaping my relationships. Try these on for size and see if they fit you too:
1. I don't want to be the most talented person in my circle.
Even if you're the man, you need someone around you who can check you. Whenever I find myself in a situation where I feel superior to everyone around me -- whether that's on stage or in the gym or at an orgy -- I know it's time to find a new situation.
This one is hard for me. My ego is very large and I'm kind of a know-it-all. But when I take an honest look in the mirror, I realize that if I actually knew it all a) my mirror wouldn't be so dirty and b) it would be even clearer to me that I don't actually know shit. So I'm wrestling with myself daily to check my ego and seek out people whose success is still aspirational to me and to also stop taking so much joy from people who praise me without discretion.
There is no growth without challenge. I want to be pushed by my partners to be my best and learn from those with wisdom and experience being winners, like HHH did in Evolution with Ric Flair as his guru.
(Ok this GIF might be a bad example but you get the point).
2. Everyone must be pulling for the same goal.
Sometimes the issue isn't one of talent or ability -- it's about agenda. If you and your crew don't want the same things, it's impossible to pull each other in the same positive direction.
I had a really great friend in comedy once who I thought was going to be the Key to my Peele. We supported each other with material and on a personal level really clicked. We were even working on a pilot together that eventually got optioned -- waking up before the birds and the Lord himself to write pages before work and push each other.
But then he found Jesus and totally abandoned our project and what we were building. Our friendship has never recovered and I have yet to come as close to trusting another comedian in that same way.
I want to be clear: I don't blame Jesus. He doesn't make choices for you. And I don't even blame my boy for living his truth. But without a common goal, how can two people move forward together? I wish him well in his future endeavors and not just because that's the line that all fired wrestlers get sent out on in the company press release.
3. I have to be my own best friend.
How is anybody supposed to love you if you don't love yourself? How is anybody supposed to want to work with you if you aren't an asset to yourself? Why would anybody want to hang around you if you keep eating raw onions then violating people's personal space to tell them jokes?
(You don't do that last one? Me neither...).
The reality is before I can expect anyone to rise to the level of friendship that I hope to have, I have to model that kind of behavior for myself. I have to demand that I work hard and take care of my business. I have to insist that I make time to improve everyday. I have to hold myself accountable or the only people that will ride with me are other slack asses.
Before I find my people, I have to find myself. I've been wrestling with this for a while. It's an everyday battle, one that we must choose to fight repeatedly.
I choose to take action every day to be the friend that I need and want others to be for me. I choose to support others without jealousy, distracting the referee for them if they need to thumb their opponent in the eye just like I hope they'd do for me. And I choose to be open to new partnerships even though some have already blown up in my face.
Life, unlike pro wrestling, is an unscripted battle, y'all. Who's fighting on your side?