Vital friends

Ben, Chris’s brother, does Toastmasters in Toronto, and one of the speeches he most recently gave was about Vital Friends, a book that Chris recommended he read after a falling out with a friend. The book is about how it’s impossible to expect all friends to fulfill all of your needs, but each friend should fulfill at least one role that is essential for your happiness and connection.

He and I had a chat about his speech today, and he said that the two roles that are non-negotiable for him across all of his friends, close or distant, is the role of “champion” and “collaborator.” The role of champion sounds like what you’d expect – this person supports you no matter what you do and cheers you on in all the decisions you make. This person will also defend you aggressively in the event someone tries to tear you down. And the role of collaborator consists of having similar passions and interests, enjoying the same activities, etc.

I thought about the role of champion. Of my close friends, I can honestly say that only one of them has fully been a “champion” of me; she is probably more of a champion of me than I am of her. I can’t imagine the others defending me to the end. But to be fair, have I been enough of a champion of them? Or really, how do you be a genuine champion of a friend when you disagree with a lot of their major life choices?

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