Why It’s Important to Have Useless People in Your Life

The reason why successful people may feel lonely

Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky on Unsplash

Recently watched Dan Pink’s pinkcast where he talked with Arthur Brooks about Arthur’s new book From Strength to Strength.

The problem that successful people have is they have lots of connections, lots of people they can call on, but they still feel lonely. Arthur says that the problem is that we need both ‘real’ friends and ‘deal’ friends in our lives.

Deal friends

Deal friends are those friends where the relationship is transactional. You can provide something valuable to them. They can provide something valuable to you. But when it comes to sharing intimate details of your life with them, you wouldn’t dare.

Real friends

Real friends are those you call up at 2 AM in the morning when you’re on the side of the road and stuck. But the relationship is not transactional at all (despite my example). You hang out. You eat. You share details of your life and it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. But compared to ‘deal’ friends, your relationship is not transactional. You’re not providing anything of value to them. They’re not providing anything valuable to you.

Are you successful, but feel lonely?

Arthur recommends listing the five people you hang out with the most that are not your family and not your spouse. Then, looking at each person on your list, ask yourself if that person is a real friend or a deal friend. If your list is comprised of four or five deal friends, it’s no reason you feel lonely.

You need to invest more time in relationships with real friends. You need friends who are useless to you (and you to them).

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Wang Yip

Wang Yip


Author of Essential Habits. I write about personal development, work and managing your career. Connect with me at www.wangyip.ca