what makes a friend?


we all like to think we have them, and our Facebook feeds are filled with 500, 1000, or in some cases 5000 ‘friends’.

but what exactly is a friend?

Brene Brown, one of my favourite authors and speakers, wrote about this in her book, ‘Daring Greatly’.  Brene mentions how Ellen (her daughter who was in grade 3 at the time) had a teacher who taught her the philosophy of the ‘marble jar’.

This was based around trust and courage.  Every time the class exhibited positive, friendly, trusting behaviour, a marble would go in the jar.  When the opposite happened, a marble was removed.

Once they’ve completed the jar, the class would celebrate.

What a terrific tangible measurement for how well the class is doing as a whole and building trust as a team.

Brene then goes on to explain how this can be brilliantly related to friendship.

So, my question for you is: How many friends do you have that you would call ‘marble jar friends’?

Friends that you honestly could trust with any piece of information and know they wont use it against you, or share it inappropriately with others?

They know your parents names, the different places you’ve worked, your birthday (without Facebook telling them!) and they drop around to your house without pre-arranging a special date…

For me, I can count on one hand how many marble jar friends I have.

But what is really amazing, is from the research, Brene has found that while most of us on the surface think our closest will disown us because of our vulnerabilities and risks…(meaning we play at ‘safe’),

in actual fact, it’s the opposite.

that’s actually why they love us.

They love that we try new things, they love that we quit our job and fly solo, they love that when we dance like crazy people in the club…

Think about your closest friend.  I bet you can imagine something weird that they do…but do you disown them? No.  You love them more because of it.  It makes them special and unique.

Because they’re not perfect.

And neither are you.

Stop spending time with those who don’t deserve you, and more with your marble jar friends.


As a final note: I highly recommend Brene’s book (Daring Greatly), and also her audio program: “The Power of Vulnerability” which I must have listened to 10-12 times this year (it’s 8 hours long and I’m not joking…)

  1. Maxine Wilson
    December 29, 2015

    What an exceptional teacher little Ellen had. Sorting out who your real friends are is an important life skill so the sooner you understand it, the better. Well written Hayden.

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