We know our friends during adversity, and our friends know us during prosperity.
As author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn often said, “You are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” I agree with Rohn; your thought process & worldview is determined by who you surround yourself with, the people, and the media you consume daily. You cannot take people farther than you have gone, and we cannot give what we do not have; who we surround ourselves with matters a lot. Most of us surround ourselves with default friends disguised as frenemies, the familiar (family), our comfort zone, and low-growth individuals.
“You are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
The above statement by Jim Rohn cuts across every area of our lives, your income is the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and your perspective is proportional to the five people you interact with often. Who we surround ourselves with is one of the most important decisions that we all have to make. One of the recurring themes in my study of people through the reading of multiple Biographical books is the importance of choosing the right partner, whether in life or business.
What is a foxhole?
In the Military, a foxhole is a type of strategic defensive position (DFP). The DFP is a type of earthwork constructed in battle, generally large enough to accommodate anything from one soldier to a fire time (or similar-sized unit). It is a small pit used for cover, usually for one or two personnel, and so constructed that occupants can effectively fire from it. It is referred to by different names: United states army – Fighting position/ranger grave, United States Marine Corps – Fighting hole, Australian Army – Gun-pit, New Zealand Army – Fighting Pit, British & Canadian Army – Slit trench/ fire trench, a sangar, shell scrape or simply a “trench.”
A foxhole is a small pit dug into the ground as a shelter for protection against enemy fire. It is a vertical, bottle-shaped hole that allows a soldier to stand and fight with head & shoulders exposed. The foxhole widens near the bottom to allow a soldier to crouch down while under intense artillery fire or tank attack. Foxholes could be enlarged to two-soldiers fighting positions, as well as excavated with firing steps for crew-served weapons or sumps for water drainage or live enemy grenade disposal.
In Winning with People: Discover the People Principles that Work for You Every Time, author and leadership expert John C. Maxwell describes the foxhole principle as one of the people principles needed to build mutual trust. The Foxhole Principle: When preparing for battle, dig a hole big enough for a friend. We know our friends during adversity, and our friends know us during prosperity. Maxwell observed that when you face tough times, you find out who your real friends are. False friends are like our shadows, keeping close to us while we walk in the sunshine but leaving us when we cross into the shade. Real friends stick with us when trouble comes.
In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. The young they keep out of mischief; to the old they are a comfort and aid in their weakness, and those in the prime of life they incite to noble deeds. —ARISTOTLE
Maxwell listed five things to keep in mind before agreeing to do battle with someone:
- Foxhole Friends Are Few
If there are people in your life who would go to battle with you, value them, for they are rare indeed.
2. Foxhole Friends Provide Strength before & during Battle
As the Greek philosopher Epicurus stated, “It is not so much our friends’ help that will help us, as the confident knowledge that they will help us.”
3. Foxhole Friends See Things from the same perspective
People who climb down into the foxhole with you see things from your point of view, and they express empathy for your situation. That makes them not only a great help but also a great comfort.
4. Foxhole Friends makes a difference in our lives
The people who fight the great battles of life with us make a huge impact on our lives.
5. Foxhole Friends Love Us Unconditionally
It’s said that a friend is someone . . .
- who will keep your secrets and never divulge them—even if tortured or tempted with chocolate.
- who will quietly destroy the photograph that makes you look like a beached whale.
- who knows you don’t know what you’re talking about but will let you reach that conclusion independently.
- who goes on the same diet with you—and off it with you, too.
Foxhole friends are that—and then some. They’d face any danger with you. They’d do anything for you. They’d give anything of theirs to you.
Small minds and weak people kill big dreams. You might have clear goals and be working on yourself every day, but if you have the wrong folks around you, there’s a good chance they could be sucking the life right out of you and making sure that you go nowhere.
In Never Finished: Unshackle Your Mind and Win the War Within, American Ultramarathon runner, author and retired United States Navy SEAL David Goggins writes about going to battle with people in a foxhole.
In military speak, the foxhole is a fighting position. In life, it’s your inner circle. These are the people you surround yourself with. They know your history and are aware of your future goals and past limitations. But because it’s a fighting position, a foxhole can just as easily become your grave. Therefore, it is crucial that you be careful about who you invite in. Whether you are at war, competing in a game, or striving in life, you never want someone in your foxhole who lacks faith or will try to steer you away from your full potential by giving you permission to pack it in or wave the white flag when shit looks bleak.
You want the husband or wife who, when you snooze that alarm on a freezing mid-winter morning before dawn, shakes you the fuck awake so you don’t miss your training run. When you’re dieting and whine about being bored of eating the same bland foods every day, they remind you of all the progress you have made, of all the hard work you have put in, and happily eat the same bland foods alongside you. When you say you’re tired from all the late-night studying, they stay up late with you to help you study.
When you evolve, your inner circle must evolve with you. Otherwise, you may subconsciously halt your own growth to avoid out- pacing and losing contact with the people who mean a lot to you but may not be able to hang with you.
Most people don’t have a selection process for their foxhole. They invite all the old cronies and close relatives in by default. As if growing up with someone is the top qualification for foxhole membership. Old friends are great and shared history is to be respected, but not every person who has been in your life a long time is looking out for your best interests. Some of them are threatened by your growth because of how it impacts them. Some are looking for a friend to keep them company in their half-ass lives.
In order to populate your foxhole with the right people, you must first know who you are as an individual. That means shaking off old belief systems—creaky concepts of the world and your place in it—that no longer serve you and the habits and lifestyle that you’ve outgrown. Any ideas or interests that were impressed upon you by others, whether they be your family, peers, or culture, must be examined consciously so you can see through all of them and discover your own unique individuality.
When there is no one around you who believes in or understands your quest, you must turn your fox- hole into a one-man fighting position. That’s okay. It is always better to fight alone until you can find people strong enough to fight the good fight with you. There is no time to waste trying to pull dead- weight up a hill.
Life is a roller coaster of challenges, struggles, vicissitudes, and uncertainties. As the saying goes: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when – whatever would go wrong would go wrong. Dealing with the various challenges of life requires having a great support system, either through the people in your life (Foxhole) or the tools you use to navigate the trying times, such as meditating, reading, self-care routine etc. To navigate any challenge, ask yourself: “Who is in my foxhole?”
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
All the Best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.