"The line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: ‘I did not have time.’"–Franklin Field
Flake is another word for loser–plain and simple. Having both studied, represented, and befriended extraordinary, successful people, I have found that there is no way around running into the occasional ‘bad seed.’
I have seen it time and time again. Prospective clients arrive late for their appointments (without apology by the way). There are those conveniently lost; those who come ill-prepared with their minds on something of seemingly more importance; and worst of all, those who simply didn’t ‘have the time’ to show up at all (without the courtesy of a cancellation!).
Flaky people are a hindrance both professionally and to the productivity of my firm. These people cause stress, they bring us down–they breed failure, not success.
"The only way to have a friend is to be one"–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Just as flakiness in the workplace provides a dismal environment, such is the case in our personal lives. Think about it. In recent years, scientific research has suggested that people who have strong friendships and business relationships experience less stress and are even less susceptible to the common cold. We have all heard how owning a dog or cat can add years to our life, so it makes perfect sense that people with good friends will have an even better outcome.
Your friends should be of impeccable character. They should be honest and reliable; they should treat you with respect and be tolerant of differences; your friends should be accountable for their choices and do what they say; and most of all they should be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.
We should expect the same amount of effort in giving and receiving. Pals keep promises. "Cross your heart," right? But what if these pals start pooping out on plans, what then? How do we identify who is bad for our health and what do we do about it?
"Good friends are good for your health"–Irwin Sarason
In a close, enduring friendship–envy, anger, jealousy and the entire gamut of emotions will eventually rear its ugly head. It is important to figure out whether it is just a phase in the friendship or if it would be better to abandon ship. Depending on how large the injury to one’s self should determine whether the friendship is worth throwing a life preserver out to water to save.
So what can I look for in my friendships to determine whether they are beneficial or harmful to my health you ask? Let me tell you! The problem is usually one of not accepting responsibility. If you think of some of the most undependable people you know, you probably won’t find them acknowledging their flakiness. Flaky people just don’t know they are flaky.
One of the aspects of being a flake is inconsistency–a mild case for instance, would be the friend who calls you back two or three days after you called. A stronger form would be when they never call you back. Ask yourself, "who will be there when I really need them, who can I depend on?"
Observe the people around you–which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which are going downhill? Do you find that the balance of give and take in the relationship is consistently off kilter?
Obviously you are going to want to hang on to those friends whose little quirks like forgetfulness you can accept as a minor flaw in character and occasionally it is more mature to accept a person’s limitations–they’re worth keeping. Those who get in the way of our personal, emotional and spiritual growth–the severe flakes–are the ones we need to ditch.
"Bad company corrupts good character"–I COR 6: 4
People who say they are going to do something and then don’t–these people are untrustworthy, especially if they invariably do it. Who wants a friend who doesn’t show up or cancels last minute?
The most common loser, eh hmm, excuse me–flake–is the promise breaker. This includes everyone from the ‘let’s meet for coffee on Wednesday but I might not show up’ friend to the ‘I promise (fingers crossed behind my back) to be there when you need me in a crisis’ friend. These people are without a doubt toxic to your health and the more you hang around them, the more they will hinder your success in life, both personally and professionally.
Bad friends will suck you in and consume your goodness and direction–they cause stress. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relaxation between those challenges. Being around people who will help motivate you and give you new ideas will minimize stress and keep you focused. Flaky people will never help you meet your commitments and goals; they will only stop you short of the finish line.
"What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us"–Ralph Waldo Emerson
We spend far too much time trying to change the things that cannot be changed; trying to control the uncontrollable. We need to ask ourselves this: what does it really matter to our lives to have flaky friends and what can we realistically do about it? Well, start living, folks.
Life is like a roller coaster ride taking us up, down, spinning us around. It will scare us and thrill us all at the same time. We don’t have steering or brakes so it’s best to look around and observe life because we only get one chance at success. Get on the right track–fire your flaky friends and enjoy the ride.
Michael Levine is the founder of the celebrated public relations firm, Levine Communications Office in Los Angeles. He is the author of 12 books. Email– firstname.lastname@example.org