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The “funny” guy? The “ambitious” guy? The “sports” guy? The “practical” guy? The “movie buff” guy?
As you think about your circle of friends, inevitably everyone fits into some kind of unique “slot” within the group. It’s a natural tendency we have to place people into specific roles. I think that, at least in some part, it’s because we all want to contribute something that is uniquely valuable, and distinctly personal. We all want to feel that we bring something to the table. So, in general, we accept and even solidify the roles that we have been placed in.
Now I’m not suggesting that every group of friends forces unwanted classifications onto people and that people blindly accept them. Not at all. In fact I think that most of the time these roles are a direct reflection of what we’re passionate about. What we enjoy the most.
Think about your typical conversation with friends. What do you usually bring up when they ask about how you’re doing, or what you’ve been up to lately? You talk about the stuff that you’re passionate about, right? The “weatherbug” guy doesn’t bring up stuff about technology, just like the “computer nerd” guy doesn’t discuss tomorrow’s forecast.
I believe this is significant to know and understand about ourselves, because as we establish the roles that we play within our our groups of friends, it’s critically important that we just-as-soon evaluate them.
Are we being perceived in a way that aligns with what we want our legacy to be?
I’m of course not suggesting that people’s perception of us gain unhealthy influence over our actions. We certainly don’t want to measure our decisions based on what people will think of us. But I do think that how we carry ourselves, the jokes we make, the articles we post, the book we read, the hobbies we invest in, the movies we watch, what we surround ourselves with and what we share with others…all of this creates a picture of who we are. And the ones closest to us will then use that picture to help “classify” who we are in the context of the group as a whole.
Please don’t misunderstand…this is not a bad thing! Indeed it is a sure mark of a Gentlemen to be seen as someone who is deeply knowledgable about a specific set of topics they are uniquely passionate about. And a true Gentlemen will use that knowledge as a way to serve others when they need help in those areas of expertise. Perhaps in a way that no one else could. That’s a really special opportunity and one that you should be diligently watching for in your relationships.
But what I am challenging you all to, fine Gentlemen, is to truly evaluate how you are perceived in your peer groups. And then to ensure that the perception aligns closely with your core values and convictions. If you have gifts of compassion and understanding, for example, don’t mistakenly hide those gifts behind arrogance by sharing bigoted and hateful articles online. If you act out of that arrogance often…chances are that when someone needs a compassionate and understanding friend to help walk with them during a time of difficulty, they won’t even know to call you.
What’s the picture you’re painting for the people in your spheres of influence?
What “guy” do other’s perceive you to be?
What “guy” do you desire to be?