Many of you know that I spent some time in the military. In 2005-2006, I found myself flying up the Euphrates River to an Iraqi detention facility which would become my home for a year of my life.
We trained for our deployment. We did a lot to ensure we were as ready as we could be. But, one lesson that has always stuck with me is the concept of a Battle Buddy.
A Battle Buddy, for those of you who are not familiar, is a member of your unit who is there to cover your six. He’s there to ensure you’re doing the right things, training as hard as you can, and covering your blind spots so you don’t do anything dumb – like get yourself killed.
It’s a concept we used on the battle field. It’s a concept used on the football field when you consider the blindside tackle whose job is to protect the quarterback at all costs. It’s a concept that is used in every facet of life.
But, it’s a concept I think a lot of men overlook when it comes to their everyday, ordinary civilian life.
Today, I want to talk with you about why it’s critical each of us find what I refer to as a Battle Brother – someone who’s got your back and will do anything to ensure you will not fail.
But, before I get into what this actually looks like, I want you to take an inventory in your own life right now.
Who do you know that can tell you the truth about your behavior?
Who do you know that would drop anything and everything to help you out should you call in the middle of the night?
Who do you know that knows all about you – the good, the bad, and the ugly – but stills wants to be your friend?
If you were in a bind, who would you call?
Who has the balls to tell you exactly what you need to hear?
Unfortunately, for a lot of men the answer is “nobody.”
And, the result of that is a whole lot of blind spots you can’t, or your refuse to, see.
See, most of us think we have it figured out. Most of us think we don’t need any help. Most of us think having someone cover our back makes us weak. Most of us are wrong.
The strongest man in the room is the one who has a group, or at least one trusted individual who will say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done, and give a man the kick in the ass he needs to get his life back on track should things go wrong.
Today, I want to talk with you about what you should look for in a Battle Brother and the type of man you and I should be in order to be deserving of the type of relationship I’m talking about.
Most people will focus on what other people should be and what they should do for them. And, while there’s a time for that, let’s first focus on who you should be. You, after all, are the only one you can control.
First and foremost, you need to be a man that can be trusted. If you want people to confide in your, and you want to be able to confide in others, you need to be a man who can be trusted not to run his mouth when you’re talking about sensitive information like addiction, drug abuse, infidelity, and anything else someone else might share with you.
Second, you need to be loyal. If you’re friendship lasts only as long as it serves you, you’re not a loyal brother. You’re a fair-weather fan that isn’t deserving of that brotherhood. It’s imperative that you seek after win-win situations. You serve him as needs help and he does the same for you.
Next, you need to be willing to get vulnerable. Frankly, it’s a term I hate. But, there is so much truth in the fact that you need to be willing to tell another man where you’re weak. Pretending your weaknesses don’t exist does not serve you. It hinders you from learning new skills and strategies that will help you grow.
And, if you have any hope of developing the type of relationship I’m talking about, you need to be willing to be vulnerable first.
Next, your job as a Battle Brother is not to judge your brother. We all do stupid things. We all make bad decisions. If you judge another man for what he has done or what he’s thinking about doing, you are not doing him any justice and you won’t have the ability to give him advice when he needs it most.
And, the last trait I want to talk with you about today is toughness. When I say “toughness,” I’m talking about two different types of tough.
First, you need to be willing to receive criticism without taking offense. If you don’t have thick enough skin to take some feedback without being an a-hole about it, you aren’t mature enough to be a Battle Brother.
Second, you need to be tough in that you’re willing to have conversations that aren’t comfortable to have. This is not the type of relationship where we only talk about the weather, last night’s fight, or the ball game.
We’re going to be talking about real things here: marriage issues, pornography, drug addictions, depression, and all the other topics no one seems to be willing to talk about.
Of course there’s so many traits to talk about and I could go on and on. But, I think that’s a good start.
When it comes to finding a Battle Brother, I think you ought to look for someone with the same traits. You might have your own qualities you’re looking for but at least that gets you pointed in the right direction.
As we wind things down today, let me give you a couple quick steps to finding someone who has your six:
- Inventory Your Current Circle – the fact is, there’s probably someone in your immediate circle who could become a good Battle Brother if you just look for it.
- Go First – leaders go first. Period. If you expect another man to open up to you just because, you’d better be ready for a letdown. You are going to have to share first. I’m not talking about opening up your deepest darkest secrets. Just share some things that have been on your mind or what you’re looking for. If that guy seems interested in the same thing, you know you’re on the right track. If he doesn’t, find someone else.
- Build a Relationship – developing a Battle Brother relationship isn’t going to happen overnight. Don’t expect it to. As with any relationship, it’s going to take time and attention. But, it’s well worth it.
Look guys, I know it’s weird to talk about other men and relationships. It’s weird for me having this conversation.
But, I can promise you, having someone have my back – whether it was on the football field, basic training, the battlefield, or my civilian life has paid huge dividends in my personal growth and success. I know it will for you as well.