Balloon or Anchor: Assessing Your Friendships for Personal Progress

There are two types of people you’ll become friends with. They’re either: balloons or anchors

When you're growing up, friends are just friends. Most of the relationships you’ve developed with others comes from association. You’re friends because you go to the same school, play on the same sports team, or work together. It isn’t until later in life that these relationships branch into these two distinct groups.

Robin Dunbar is best known for Dunbar’s number, the maximum amount of relationships a person can cognitively maintain at one time. At any given time you can keep track of a maximum of 150 people. 

At any given time you can keep track of a maximum of 150 people.

At the maximum you’ll develop a selection practice. One new friend in, one old friend out. Once fruitful, the friendships you developed now seem to drift away because of our minds' limited capacity.

A fork happens in the relationships you’ve built driven by the different games you play. 

Everyone is busy working on trying to beat the game they’re playing. You begin to idolize different role models, value different things, and beat levels at different times. All while developing new friendships along the way. 

The growth of your tribe is the growth of your spirit.

The 150 people you maintain are in a constant selection process as you’re meeting new people. The evolution of your relationships and personal network gets richer with time. Balloon and anchor friends come out as the relationship evolves.

Balloon Friends

Balloon friends will carry you to new heights. They raise you up. Fill your personal network of 150 people with all balloon friends and you’ll be able to fly your house wherever you want to go like you’re in the movie Up.

These people are extremely hard to find. Their ambitions align with your own. Both of you align on similar values. Balloon friends will raise the bar you have set in every aspect of your life.

This is the power of the master mind as Napoleon Hill would call it. The master mind principle was taught to him by Andrew Cargnie, who surrounded himself with 50 men for the purpose of manufacturing and marketing steel. 

Napoleon Hill said:

“When a group of individual brains is coordinated and functions in harmony, the increased energy created through that alliance becomes available to every individual brain in the group.”

Each new balloon friend adds a new perspective to your tribe. New perspectives lead you to develop new knowledge and skills. These new assets in your arsenal make your value to the world trend upward.

A good measure to see who your balloon friends are is to ask yourself “who can I celebrate my wins with that doesn’t require me to apologize for bragging first?”

Usually the balloon friends in your life are making progress towards their own goals. Your success fuels them. It pushes them to do more but they don’t mind celebrating because they too know their next big win is right around the corner.

Anchor Friends

Your past relationships change when you do.

“As you grow, you lose certain homies because it’s called closing the gap”, Snoop Dogg explained in an interview with A$AP Rocky. When you start, the gap is small. But, as you grow while others don't, that gap continues to expand. The only way to close the gap is to come back down.

Anchor friends force you to go backwards in your personal journey to maintain that relationship.

Envy is a poisonous emotion. Your anchor friends are constantly filled with envy and jealousy every time you win. Each victory is an obnoxious display of your arrogance or perfection to anchor friends.

Over time anchor friends develop into silent enemies.

They secretly want you to falter and fall. Why? Because it closes the gap for them. Failure temporarily knocks you out of the compounding progress you’re making and stalls you from winning the game you're playing. Your slowed progression makes their insecurities and inaction feel less obvious.

Having too many anchor friends from past relationships you’ve cultivated is the fastest way to stall your progress. Be extremely diligent in identifying who’s becoming a silent enemy towards your progress.

How to manage balloon and anchor friends

I’ve thought a lot about the relationships I want to have in my life. Who you have around you plays a massive role in who you will become. That’s why it’s important to choose your friends wisely, otherwise you’ll be disappointed with the results you get out of life.

Anchor friends will have more of an impact on you than balloon friends will. One anchor friend zeros out the impact 3 balloon friends can have on your life. When a friend that was once a balloon, turns into an anchor it can completely reverse the progress you’ve made over the course of your journey.

One anchor friend zeros out the impact 3 balloon friends can have on your life.

For me, some of the most balloon people I have met have come from the internet. Most of them are creating and sharing ideas online, but this is only because they’ve put out a magnet to find other like minded people.

Not all balloon friends have to come from the internet, although it becomes harder for you to seek these people out if not. Other balloon people in my life have introduced me to more balloon people. 

Do your friends introduce you to their friends that are helping them level up too? If the answer is no, I would spend time in careful consideration of which role you’re playing in their life. Are you a balloon lifting them up to progress or an anchor making them feel like they have to come down to close the gap.

Almost all the relationships I have that have turned out to be anchor friends typically grew into that. They never started that way. Nostalgia makes it hard to recognize when the once balloon has turned into a heavy anchor pulling you down.

When any relationship is no longer harmonious, it might be time to ask yourself: Is this person raising my house up like a balloon and forcing me to grow more, or is this person weighing me down like an anchor keeping me stuck in the same spot?

  1. Snoop Dogg discussing the friend gap:

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