on having a war council
Yesterday morning, after I dropped Alex off at school, I drove to this very charming restaurant (where these photos were taken) to meet my friend John for breakfast. John, actually, is my former boss: I worked for him for several years at two different companies. He's retired now, and even though we don't work together any more, we've developed a habit of having breakfast or lunch together once every few months or so, when we catch up on each other's lives. John has always been very kind to me, but even more pointedly, he's always been something of a mentor to me.
In fact, after I left our breakfast, I couldn't help thinking that John has become a confirmed member of my war council.
I first heard about the concept of having a war council about 10 years ago, at a business conference: it's a group of friends who are more than just people who you enjoy spending time with. These are your friends who you know both have your back and who aren't afraid to be nakedly honest with you -- who are kind, but who also don't pull any punches when they give you their opinion. Friends who don't preach, but they do give you food for thought. And then, when you finally make your decisions in life, these are your friends who support you unconditionally, whether you listened to their advice or not.
Because these are pretty special people, war councils tend to be small -- at least, the folks who comprise my war council are a modest, select (though diverse) group. But as I grow older, I realize how invaluable having them in my life is, and I fervently hope that I'm able to return the favour.
I wish I knew how to spontaneously create a war council, but I'm not sure how it happens, other than naturally and organically. I do know, however, that if I were to give advice to my own daughter, or to someone who was just beginning his adulthood, it would be this: be particularly vigilant for those friends in life who are generous of themselves, but also have a strong sense of justice and integrity.
And when you come across these people, hang on to them like Grim Death, man -- because friends like these are rare indeed.