What is a real friend? By J Loren Norris


What is a real friend? By J Loren Norris




“Followers, frenemies and fake friends abound, but a real friend is the one who will tell you when you screw up royally, and still be your friend.” J Loren Norris


If you want to have friends, be a friend. That saying is as old and reliably true as the proverbial “golden rule.” No amount of manipulation, arm twisting or bribery will garner your real friends. Sure, you can pay Fiverr to grow your Twitter followers, you can buy ads in Facebook, Google, Instagram and TikTok to increase the level of exposure and get more people to “like you” or at least to like what you share with the public. But if you want REAL FRIENDS, you will need a new strategy!


FIRST - Be sincere, authentic and trustworthy


If you want people around you who you can trust to tell you the truth about yourself and still love you in all your strange ways, you have to first become that kind of person. Are you safe to share secrets with? Do you hold people’s deepest darkest fears as a tool to use against them, or do you guard them like a precious jewel? Are you honest, open and humble about your own inner struggles, or do you just milk everyone else so you’ll have more ammo to seek revenge with later?


SECOND - Choose wisely who you trust in your inner circle


Not everyone you meet can be trusted with your hurts, fears, anxieties and past. There will be POSERS who act and speak as though they care about you. They will make an obvious effort to “get close to you.” They might even start talking trash about others, to have you all to themselves. They will lie, manipulate and start trouble between your other friends and then pretend to be the only one you can trust. A very painful lesson I learned as a teenager about relationships: “If they will lie to you about someone else, they are lying to someone else about you.” A scorpion stings. Its what they do. Its in their nature.


THIRD (but not final) - All friendships are seasonal, know the seasons,


Like the changing of seasons as the Earth travels around the sun, every friendship is seasonal. Some seasons are longer than others. Some seasons bring storms, some bring flowers. Every season has positive and negative attributes. Every season is different not only from the other seasons, but from the last season just like this one. Summer is generally hot in Texas, some summers are egg on the sidewalk hot and some are my skin is melting hot. But it has NEVER SNOWED IN TEXAS IN THE SUMMER - seasons vary, but they are very predictable. Friendships are the same. They will ebb and flow as time goes on. Some will vanish like the snow, some will linger like the cloudy days in London or Seattle. Some will be predictable as the summer sun, spring rain, leaves of fall. Some will be like an unexpected tornado. Knowing the warning signs of change will prevent lots of pain and loss. Knowing what is predictable and being prepared for it will pay huge dividends. I never pack a Parka when i travel to the Congo or Brazil or Cuba... I always take a jacket when I travel to Colorado, at anytime of the year.








How important is work ethic? There are really three schools of thought on the question of work ethic.


School #1 Work Ethic is KING or QUEEN


This school of thought basically extols work ethic, grind, hustle, persistence, hard work or even grit as the primary driver and indicator of success. The majority of people who hold this view are hard working, blue color (and some white color), “self made” Superstars. Many are soldiers, entrepreneurs and self employed. They may not own or operate a huge corporate structure,  but what they have, they built from the ground up through blood, sweat, tears, and significant personal sacrifice.


School #2 Work Ethic is a thing of the past


Many people who have grown up in the mostly digital age, have seen “overnight successes”, YouTube millionaires, Instagram Celebrities, Social Media influencers and Professional Gamers who are global sensations and incredibly wealthy at an early age with limited education or life experience. Several are still young enough to live at home, they bear no expenses for living and spend their earnings extravagantly. The other end of this same school of thought are the millions who believe “everything should be free.” Free healthcare for all, free college for all, advanced degrees, rent, student loans and more, someone else should be responsible to pay for that, after all, “I didn’t ask to be born.”


 School #3 Work Ethic Doesn’t Always look like work


Manual labor versus executive leadership has always been a noticeable divide. While some in the management realm are leaders because they were handed the reigns due to bloodline alone, it is not always the case. Many who now sit at the helm started off at the bottom. They applied work ethic, grind, hustle, persistence, hard work and grit as the primary driver to their success. They also reached a point where they understood their greater contribution was in the THINKING areas of strategy, tactics, negotiations, idea generation and leadership. They are not opposed to hard work or manual labor, they simply understand the need for both hard labor and laborious thinking. They likely realize certain among them are better suited for one style of hard work over the other.


“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” Henry Ford


Wherever you land on the spectrum of these various schools of thought, know this for certain, the greater your willingness to work hard, to invest in yourself and others, to dig in with grit and personal sacrifice, the greater are your chances for success, liberty, freedom and independence. THAT IS A GLOBAL AND UNIVERSAL TRUTH and any government structure which prevents, discourages, deters or disincentivizes such choice of behavior is corrupt at best and committed to enslaving people for political power at worst.






More than thirty years ago I began to journal. Some of the things written down are personal thoughts I needed to process and Have zero value to be revealed. Most of the things written down were ideas, notions or concepts which stretched my mind. Inventions and perspectives which challenged me and the people around me at the time.


Some of those ideas were laughable when I wrote them down, today they are real, in action and commercially viable. Some of the captured notions were warnings to my heart about people and relationships which were risky or ill advised. Some of the scribblings and ramblings were highlights from great conversations, truthful revelations and personal discoveries. Some of these ideas expressed themselves as poetry, short stories and prose. Some were simply fragments of awareness, a glimpse into something which would take years or decades to truly comprehend.


Looking back on all of these writings now brings up some deeper reflection. The maturity in some areas and blindness in others motivates me to crave more awareness, understanding  and application.


None of these mental exercises are unique to me. All of these thoughtful encounters are the course of human nature. The real difference lies in the keeping record of these notions and considering them from time to time asking, “Where do they fit NOW?”


Many scientists will tell you the human mind never really forgets anything. The ability to recall the details, emotions and value of an idea or event requires keeping detailed notes and intentional reflection. That’s why everyone should journal.






    “In a matter of minutes you will have a pretty good grip on his ability to honor others even if he disagrees, his patience with being given directions, his grace and respect for the opposite sex and his empathetic compassion for people in




In a matter of minutes you will have a pretty good grip on his ability to honor others even if he disagrees, his patience with being given directions, his grace and respect for the opposite sex and his empathetic compassion for people in general.


Of course, he could be acting just to curry favor. He could be putting on a show just to impress an observer, but of all the people to fool, TRY FOOLING your mom!!


If you see a young man, 5-30 years of age, who is kind, polite, respectful and protective of his mother, chances are he is a man with a great heart. AND IF HE IS FAKING IT just for the moment, MOM will call him on it. It will usually sound like, “Who are you trying to impress?” Or “What do you want now? You’re not normally this nice.”


Those are red flags! If mom calls him out for “pretending to be a good heart person” chances are YOU’RE GETTING PLAYED. Run!


A fellow leadership coach, who is also a mentor to me, told me when he was a C-Suite Executive, he would take potential new hires for a game of golf... even though he doesn’t play  well. This time on the course would reveal unintentional weak spots in graciousness, patience, integrity, taking responsibility and many other attributes. It is a place where people tend to let their guard down and feel comfortable.


If you could get a few hours with a young man and his mother, you would learn a DECADES worth of social insights worth millions of dollars in background investigations. If you’re considering dating or marrying him rather than hiring him, this time invested in meeting and getting to know them together could save you years of heartache and thousands of dollars or more or it could reveal the heart of gold you are looking for.


YOUNG MEN - you have been outed. Everyone is now watching how you treat your mother - so WATCH HOW YOU TREAT YOUR MOTHER if you are still privileged to have her in your life.