FUNdamental Friends

What Roles Do Your Friends Play?


Sometimes, we overlook at how blessed we are with friends who help us through life’s challenges. Tom Rath’s book VITAL FRIENDS: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without classifies eight different roles that friends can play. As a friend, what role do you play to others?


Builders are friends who motivate you, invest in your development, and truly want you to succeed — even if it means they’ll go out on a limb for you. These friends help you see your strengths and advise you onhow best to use them. They are generous with their time and encourage you to accomplish more. They’ll never compete with you and will always be standing at the finish line to cheer you on.



Champions stand up for you and your beliefs and they praise you to everyone else they know. They are the friends who “have your back” and will advocate for you when you’re not around to defend yourself. Champions are your strongest supporters who thrive on your accomplishments and happiness.



Collaborators are friends with similar interests, those who share your passion for sports, hobbies, religion, work, politics, food, movies, music, or books. Shared interests are what often make Collaborators lifelong friends and those with whom you are most likely to spend your time.



Companions are always there for you, whatever the circumstances. You share a bound that is virtually unbreakable and when something big happens in your life, good or bad, this is the person you call first. These friends are always giving you meaningful gifts and they will sacrifice for your benefit.



Connectors are the bridge builders who help you get what you want. These friends get to know you and then instantly work to connect you with others who will share your interests or goals. They extend your network dramatically and give you access to new resources. If you need a job, a doctor, a friend, or a date, call a Connector.



Energizers are fun friends who are always there to boost your spirits and create more positive moments in your life. They pick you up when you’re down and can turn a good day into an even better one. Energizers are those to call on when you need a laugh, a smile, or a bit of relaxation in your day.



Mind Openers are the friends who stretch your viewpoint, introduce you to new ideas, opportunities, cultures, and people. They help you to expand your vision and create positive change in your life. These are the friends who challenge conventional wisdom and come up with creative solutions to whatever problems or obstacles you face. They are stimulating and motivating and allow you to express opinions that you might be uncomfortable articulating to others.



Navigators are friends who give advice and direction. You seek them out when you need guidance and counsel — they’re great at talking through your options. Navigators are best at hearing your dreams and goals and then helping you find the path to achieve them.


Think of all of the friends that have helped you through your life; these people may have helped you through many small challenges, or have helped you through one large obstacle. Take some time to tell them what role they play in your life, and how it has affected you.

Now think about what role you play in others’ lives. Which one applies to you, and why? Let me know in your comments!

Adapted from, VITAL FRIENDS: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, by Tom Rath, publication August, 2006, The Gallup Press.