One of my favorite words is caliber. While it’s often used to describe the size of a gun barrel, it also describes the quality of a person’s character. How that person conducts themselves, makes decisions, and generally carries out their life. To say someone is of a high-caliber is to say that their character is of a high quality. A good person. A person to model your own behavior after.

Caliber, to me, means a lot of things. It means someone who doesn’t crack under pressure. An artist who gives up nearly everything just to produce their art. That kid who asked “are you okay?” when that bully knocked you off the swing in second grade. I look at it as an awareness. A consciousness of others and how you interact with them. A consciousness of their own character. Not in a narcissistic sense, but a caution. They think before they act and recognize the consequences of their choices.

Considering the caliber of others in respect to who you keep as company can help you to discover some really unique people. People who, on the surface may not look like much, but when you see how they behave—what they do—you fall in love. What they pay attention to. Their level of respect toward others, regardless of status. Their raison d'être. You can’t quite articulate why, but you know that they’re a good person simply because of how they carry themselves.

On the flip side of this is low caliber people. They lack that awareness. That sense of both their own reality and the realities of those around them. You don’t want to be around them. You don’t want to work with them. You want to escape. It’s a horrible feeling and one that can cause a lot of inner conflict when asking whether or not you should keep them around.

The problem with low caliber people is that they’re easy to miss at first. They seem to be perfectly fine. It’s not until you seem them in some situation, some predicament, that you see their true character. How they really view the world and those around them. Put a low caliber person in a difficult situation and they’ll crawl out of the wood like ants in a fumigation tent. Vermin gasping for air.

A high caliber person conducts themselves with equanimity. No matter what the situation. Surround yourself with these people at all costs. They’re the true friends. The allies. The one’s who will go to bat when everything falls apart. The others? Kindly show them the exit and carry on.