I find it surprisingly common how many people, at least in my immediate circles chose their friends based on the tangible output they create or the strength of their signalling. In school / work circles, people gravitate towards those who’ve worked at cool companies, or “built something cool”, or won a big award, etc.
I’d argue that it makes for a good filter of ability / ambition to some extent (who doesn’t want accomplished friends) but not a good decider of who to genuinely spend time with (considering there’s likely hundreds of people in your circle who fit that description).
I’d like to think that something as pertinant as who I spend time with on a regular would be thoroughly thought through and curated beyond just a resume and a few simple words.
Realistically, you can only make time in your week for ~5 close friends, so what differentiates those who are close from those who aren’t. I’m somewhat surprised with the lack of attention to genuine, divergent personality traits given by people.
While there’s nothing wrong with being very close friends with people who are, for example, good engineers, I’d argue that the role of friendship, or for that matter any human interaction is to grow as much as you can from it.
As an example, simply being around good engineers, doesn’t directly make you able to produce better engineering work. Output, and work specifically doesn’t osmosize.
Thoughtfulness and intelligence — I’ve found are something that while highly transferable aren’t particularly common based on someone’s pure ability.
I think the question of friend filtering needs to be answered on a personal level.
A good framework I’ve found for choosing good friends is, what traits does this person have that I can get through osmosis? What kind of people have the energy and personality that will rub off on me the more time I spend with them?
What I started to realize is the majority of the things I cared about on a person level, were rarely fulfilled by the people who simply produced good work.
Here’s a few rare personality traits I find myself both looking and optimizing for personally.
- I believe genuine curiousity is something that is in incredibly short supply, people that are genuinely curious should be sought after because of their excitement for the unknown
- Someone who has moved around a lot is significantly more likely to have contrarian views without actually realizing it
- People who have obsessive, yet unexpected interest are high signal because they’ve been immersed in a world entirely different from the one they’re working in.
- focused people are rare - -very rare. people that are ambitious, and make it a point to make fast progress without timelines.
- speed matters a lot (both in terms of interation and progress)- - some people I’ve had the privelege of working with recently move at the speed of light. I think the urgency of getting things done is something everyone should gravitate towards.
- people who give and seek feedback often - - especially to their closest friends tend to be no bs, honest, growth focused, and just incredibly observant.
- I’ve found that people who’ve moved around a ton growing up have a much less sense of identity and belonging - their ideas and interests are agile
- Uniquely optimistic people, or in general people who default to interpreting situations in unexpected ways are more likely to give you a new outlook on situations
- I’ve yet to meet many risk taking - deep-end type people - the type of people that commit to doing things way harder than anything they’ve ever done before - - I think they’re willing - at least mentally - to struggle a lot.
- strongly principled people - - the people who say they’re not the type of person to do certain things tend to have a strong sense of conviction about themselves/ by extension of letting people know about their strong opinion / views they subconsciously stop themselves from changing their mind in the future.
The people I spend time with are aggressively good at one thing. It’s a prerequisite to be ambitious and want to accomplish incredible things, but there’s more to consider about choosing the kinds of people to invest time with.
I tried to extrapolate on what I think is personally high signal and interesting in a potential friend. When I meet people that fit some criteria, I pursue closeness to them because I know I have a lot to gain from simply being around them. This was my attempt at trying to articulate this phenomenon. And hopefully encourage some discussion about what makes someone magnetic to be around.
People flock towards people who have similar interests as them (I guess it’s default to want to be around people like you), but in my view, those who find a way to be close to people that can match a key characteristic (like ambition) and have an overdose of a personally desirable transferable characteristics - - they end up working, and thinking in ways that are truly incredible.