The Friendship Filter: Why We Can Count Our Best On One Hand

by Francisco Alvarez

Regardless of what Facebook tells you, you don't have 500 friends. As a matter of fact, I'm willing to bet that the number of people who deserve that title in your life is closer to five.

I, for one, can count my friends on one hand and still have fingers left. I get the feeling your number isn't too far off, either. Friendships are unique relationships in our lives and an essential factor on the road to personal success.

From now on, I want you to think of yourself as the lead role in a never-ending movie and all of your friends as the important supporting roles who will help you attain that golden statue.

Most appearances will be relegated to cameos, but a chosen few will have the distinction of being the indispensable supporting cast to make you look and feel great.

A knowledgeable casting director is responsible for much of a movie's Hollywood ending. That selection process, however, may be a bit tricky, and the purpose of this article is to simplify that procedure.

By using a series of thought-provoking metaphors, I aim to facilitate the decision as to which people pass by temporarily and which ones get to stay forever. First, make a list of the most memorable people you can think of, as of this moment.

Regardless of how long you've known these people, jot them down on a piece of paper and keep this in mind: If completed successfully, you'll have a clearer view of whether or not they will fit in your life for the long haul.

Imagine you're stuck in the Sahara desert. The sun is beaming down on you, and the temperature is rising. You would do anything for a drink of water. From the corner of your eye, you spot a mirage.

You begin to hallucinate a waterfall cascading into a creek surrounded by shady palm trees. As you make strides toward this illusion, you notice it gets smaller with every step. Once you reach the mirage, you realize it was all in your head.

Some people are like a mirage: The closer you get, the faster they disappear. Relationships -- friendships, in particular -- require an equal balance.

When I use the word equal, I mean both parties involved need to maintain reciprocity throughout the bond of 100 percent of themselves, not just the ever-so-popular "fifty-fifty" mentality.

A real friend is someone you can count on through thick and thin, who is willing to listen to every word and who will be by your side with unconditional love, as close to the ones bound by blood.

If someone is absent during your struggles, he or she shouldn't expect to be present during your success.

People who behave this way back us into corners and ultimately, force us to make one of two choices: We fix the relationships to the best of our abilities, or flee before someone gets hurt beyond repair.

A statue, on the other hand, remains in place without much change. It is something we can rely on consistently, call upon when needed and appreciate with grandiose admiration throughout the course of our lives.

You will always know where a statue stands and can visit it endlessly, time and time again. A statue will never leave you, judge you or make you feel insignificant in any way, shape or form.

True friendships stand the test of time and weather any storm, much like a statue. They have a solid foundation based on trust, honesty and an irrevocable desire to support and witness each other's triumphs.

I'm certain that a small batch of people come to mind as you read this, and those are the ones you need to have on your team. It's been well-documented that throughout history, there is strength in numbers.

From the ancient Romans to the almighty Greeks and Asian dynasties, the past has dictated that success can be found by the masses, but that's not necessarily true when it comes to friendships.

Many acquaintances and colleagues will take place in your life, but genuine friendships are close in nature and are characterized by passion for the same things, desire for the same goals and aspirations for the same dreams.

These friendships are few and far between — rare, to say the least. Some might argue they come once in a lifetime, twice if you're lucky. Three? Perhaps.

Statistics will never be on our sides when it comes to friendships because the odds of finding a few people like that are astronomical. One thing is for certain: Most of the people you come across will fall out of this realm of possibility, but that's no reason for despair.

Many will fight to claim a place in your heart as potential life mates. By all means, give them a chance, but not all will be cut out to remain. Sometimes, your circle decreases in size but increases in value.

I only have room in my life for people who can contribute positivity to it. There is an inherent worth in friendship and, to all of us, it should represent a lot.

Since we're on the record, I have no problem saying I would much rather have four quarters than 100 pennies. I have no doubt in my mind you can relate to that sentiment.

Picture this: You're the CEO of your own company. You have the privilege of overlooking everyone currently under your supervision and the authority to hire all applicants who want to come onboard, with you.

Your life is constantly under construction. This means you want the best people available to build your idea of the perfect organization from the ground up.

Guess what? You can. Like Tony Gaskins Jr. says, "Evaluate the people in your life; then promote, demote or terminate."

Feel free to establish a hierarchy moving forward with certain degrees of priority given to each level. Give 75 percent of your time to those closest to you — people you feel are as important to you as breathing.

Allocate 20 percent more to those who share your wants and needs, so you can have a clearer picture of where they will eventually fall. The final five percent should be for individuals who take the first step in acknowledging a desire to get to know you.

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.

Choose wisely.