The following is a guest article from Jay Howard of JayHoward.me.

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Humans were designed to share life with others. It’s intrinsic within us.

We need community and interaction. We crave the encouragement, accountability and support that come from strong relationships – especially meaningful male friendships.

Unfortunately, we live in an age of isolation. Technology has us with our heads down, looking into our phones with earbuds in. Modern culture communicates that success, money and power come from rugged individualism. We celebrate our ability to stand alone.

We’re so averse to revealing that we need other people that we have to create silly words like “bromance” – just to describe this insane idea of actually being friends with other men.

We’re scared of being called weak, needy or clingy when what we really desire (and need) is companionship and camaraderie. We’re uncomfortable with being vulnerable or honest with other males because we’re convinced we don’t need anyone else.

Here’s the truth: in this age of individualism and isolation, one of the most powerful things a man can do is work to build deep friendships with other men. Personally, I would argue that what humble success I’ve had in this world can be in large part attributed to my friends, my crew.

And hey, let’s be real here – when I hang out with my fellas, we’re not just sitting in a circle, holding hands and singing kumbaya. We adventure together, we get into trouble, we laugh and we play poker ’til 2am.

We drink whiskey around fire pits, watch football and rant about the movies we love and hate. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, goals and fears in life.

We ask good questions and poke fun at each other. We cook dinners together and go camping. We challenge each other to become better men.

We do life together.

That’s the goal- to share this thing called life with other people. To experience and celebrate it together.

Want a guide on how to build those relationships and connect with people? Check out my post on 5 ways to instantly connect with anybody.

That said, here are 4 reasons men need relationships with other men. Read them and ask yourself: Am I getting the most from my male friendships?

1 – Competition

We were made to compete. Whether it’s on the field, in the office or in the arena of everyday life, the desire to compete and win is something that drives most males.

4 Things Men Need in Male Friendships
Unfortunately, modern culture has frowned on this idea. The Millennial generation (people born from the early 1980’s-2000) grew up in the “participation trophy” age in which we were told that we shouldn’t value winning.

Of course, winning shouldn’t be the only thing we value, but we should work to be the best. Even if we don’t get there, we’re still improving every day.

So many men graduate college, get their first corporate job and sit in a grey cubicle for 8 hours a day. They gain weight, lose motivation and smooth away all competitive edges. Instead of fighting to get better, they just survive.

Having some healthy competition within your group of friends can help wake you up.

Do your best to surround yourself with high performing friends who want to kill it in life. On the days when you’re feeling lazy or complacent, look at your friends’ success and say, “Well, I don’t want to be the loser in the group.” That alone can get you off the couch and moving again.

Healthy competition among a group of driven friends is a beautiful thing. Is it part of your friendships?

2 – Accountability

We all have blind spots – weaknesses in areas that we overlook. Life gets a whole lot easier when you accept that fact and live accordingly.

Pursue relationships that let you be vulnerable enough to confess your weaknesses. Be humble. When your buds tell you, “Dude, stop, you’re being an idiot,” don’t argue. Just stop. Let yourself be truly known and accountable to others.

4 Things Men Need in Male Friendships
Good friends will look out for you because they want the best for you. They will identify the weaknesses that you miss. If you’re willing to be accountable to other men, you’ll see your personal success and maturity grow rapidly.

3 – Adventuring Together

This post gets a bit serious at times, but at the end of the day there’s no need to overcomplicate it:

Go have fun with your friends!

  • Shake things up.
  • Do something just because.
  • Get into some trouble.
  • Have stories to tell.

Shared experiences are what make life rich.

My favorite part of the week is early mornings surfing with my buddies. We chat about life as we relax in the water. Plus, I have somebody to pull me out of the ocean when the waves are too big and I inevitably have a near-drowning experience.

Last summer my crew and I planned a trip to the desert. Spontaneously, we decided to go on a long run – in the 100+ degree midday heat. Don’t ask me why.

We ran through the desert, we almost died, we laughed when one of us tripped over a rock and we fought to not be the guy in the back of the group. We decided to sprint the last 100 yards back to our rented house and almost passed out as we arrived.

Why did we do that? The better question is – Why not? Life is all about having unforgettable experiences and creating stories you’ll be telling for years to come.

This year there’s been talk of our crew climbing Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the U.S. I’ll let you know how that turns out…

For now, remember that having adventures worth remembering is simple: Go find some cool dudes and have fun!

4 Things Men Need in Male Friendships4 Things Men Need in Male Friendships
Feel free to use the adventurous ideas I listed above. But just in case you aren’t too keen on climbing mountains or running through the desert, here are a few more options:

  • Plan an epic camping/hiking trip
  • Read and discuss a book together every month
  • Hit up your local brewery and taste some micro-brews
  • Attend a business lecture together to learn something new
  • Help out your community by serving a local charity a few times a year
  • Find cheap tickets to a local pro sports team event

4 – Mastermind Sessions

What is a mastermind session, you ask? Simple: it’s a group of guys getting together at a specific time to talk about what they want to accomplish in life and brainstorm how to make it happen.

I don’t really know why we call it a “mastermind” session. I think it just sounds significant and makes us feel cool and important. So let’s stick with it.

I had a mastermind session with some buddies in January to discuss my goals for this year. We talked about what I wanted everything in my life to look like: my relationships, my career, my health, my finances, etc.

We created concrete goals, actionable steps and benchmarks to measure our progress. Every month we have a standing meeting to discuss how we’re doing with our goals.

The point of a session like this is to get together with like-minded people and pool your collective brain power to create a plan for an amazing life. Discuss your biggest visions, newest ideas and most creative ways to attack your dreams.

Exactly how to conduct these sessions and the specifics of effective goal setting is a separate post all together.

There’s no doubt: there is massive value in having friends to share your big ideas with.

4 Things Men Need in Male Friendships
Ready to schedule a mastermind session with your friends? Set aside a few hours (or a whole day or even a weekend) to get the whiteboard out, crack open the cans of Red Bull and lock the doors until you come out with some game-changing ideas. Remember the rule – no idea is too big or too crazy to discuss.

Here are a few examples of goal-setting categories you can brainstorm about:

  • Fitness (creating a goal for weight loss)
  • Career (starting your own business)
  • Finances (paying off all your student loan debt)
  • Relationships (taking your girl out for a date each week)
  • Adventure/Travel (booking that trip to Italy)
  • Hobbies (taking the kickboxing lessons you’ve been talking about)
  • Personal Development (reading two books every month)

Make Meaningful Friendships

The simple fact is this: all good things in life take place in the context of relationships with others. In a culture that fosters individualism and isolation, pursuing deep friendships with other men provides many opportunities. Grow, be challenged, experience support and live more richly.

Have you taken that opportunity? What do your friendships mean to you? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.