A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
Proverbs 17:17

A family member committed suicide about seven years ago. It was the first time I saw suicide from the inside. There was a letter, a plan, and no hope. We had the answers why, but never the conversations beforehand. It was crushing for all.

My partner had a friend who owned a successful local company who, when faced with a challenging bump in the road in his business, completely pulled the shades on his peer community and in his words “put the blinders on and focused only on the business.” Total isolation. Same sucky ending with a wife and teenage daughters left to sort through the ick.

Someone in my community committed suicide three weeks ago. He was middle age, had a good job, a wife, couple kids. He was social and “normal” by all means. No letter, and no understanding, only questions. That is crushing.

Suicide sucks. This is a deep and psychological issue. I’m not a psychologist nor do I understand all that goes into the mind or those decisions. I do know that when there is no hope, suicide becomes an option. It’s also a phenomenon that is rising in number. People are feeling more desperate, discouraged, depressed, and drained.

I facilitate a community of business owner and CEO mastermind groups which serves a lot of isolated individuals. One of the big things I noticed is that most of them have little to no support in terms of friends or circles of others to do and share life.

I see it because I was one of them.

I had an interesting exit as CEO. One day I was the CEO, and because of the ownership transition, the next day I wasn’t. More on that saga later, but the point is that when the change is that drastic, you find out very quickly who are real friends and who aren’t. It turns out that most of my network of “friends” were only that way because of my title and status and what I could do for them. Man did that suck.

On top of that, we were a national company, so my network was around the country. I couldn’t even grab a coffee or connect on another level. The phone makes you easy to forget.

So basically, I had nothing that resembled authentic relationships. No “call that guy when it got tough” friends locally. Now I did have family (which is different) … but not friends beyond chit-chat at kids games and school functions. I spent so much time heads down at work that when I finally had time to take a breath and look up, I found out that there wasn’t any fruit on the vine of relationships.

I had a dead branch, and it was dry. It was also sad. I had what the world thought was success (company, title, wife, kids, house, cars, etc…) but I had a giant hole when it came to friends, network, and community.

I have found that this is common with men. We’re just terrible at it. Women are better. But in general, if you are an achiever, the higher you go in an organization, the less time and energy you spend on friendships of any kind.

“My spouse is my best friend.” Great! Yet, you need a network and friends that are the same sex going through the same life stages as you (work, marriage, kids, sex, faith).

How would you define your network and relationship vine currently?

“I don’t have time for friends and I’m not the kind of person that would jump into a ‘circle’ as you call it.”

Baloney. You’re being stupid and prideful.

Friends will encourage you, share hard truths, see past blind spots, create clarity, and help the feeling of being alone. They are going through the same thing as you. Friends create hope.

You aren’t in as bad of a spot as I was, or perhaps you are in denial. You have a community available to you. You just need to say “Yes” to an opportunity. Say yes when you are invited to that Dad’s night, Mom’s club, running group, workout class, to play on the old guy basketball or co-ed soccer team, weekend retreat, or Bible study.

Start your own circle, join someone else’s circle, but don’t do life without a circle. Let me even be more frank. You and I were created for community by your creator. You are an inherently relational creature. You are not made for isolation.

Get over yourself and open your kimono to what is going on in your life. When you do, others will share and all boats rise – and hope. Hope that there is a chance for your marriage, there is a chance that you can be a better spouse and parent, that this debt can paid off, that whatever is heaviest on you at the moment has a light at the end of the dark tunnel.

If you have a circle, then it’s imperative that you invite others to join it. You have a hope magnet. Attract those who need it with what you have already created.

Want to join my circle?