Posts Tagged 'friendship'

Wealth of Relations

 

Courtesy dePlicque.net

 

What does it mean to prosper?

My brain has been asking this for two days.

As a society, we tend to emphasize tangible cues: nice cars, spacious houses and fine dining. Somehow, the measure of success is tied to our ability to consume goods and services, to splash cash on whatever we choose whenever the urge strikes. This kind of thinking eventually boils life down to one mind-rattling question:

If I can’t buy anything, can I do well?

There are few experiences a person can have more frightening than being unable to cover expenses. In those moments when pennies are being rationed from one month to the next, it is challenging for an individual to separate financial concerns from personal identity.

We have to remember what lasts.

As the bank account hovers near zero, all that can be held on to is what makes us timeless. Oftentimes, the last bastion of hope is found in our relationships, the one thing certain to have a life beyond us. When the time comes to slog off for the next soul-crushing shift, the affection we feel — for or from someone — can give us the energy to keep going.

I do my best to have good days and great days.

Sometimes that is difficult.

In high and low times, there are three words you can be certain I will always say if asked “How are you?”

“Alive and loved,” is my reflexive reply. More than I care to admit, that’s been all I could say. With little, if any, money to my name, I have uttered the phrase with a weak smile in an effort to seem optimistic about what the future holds.

On reflection, it is full of striking power.

I have strong bonds with a wonderful family and tremendous friends.

I have another day to show those people — and maybe some others — I care.

That’s wealth that cannot be lost.

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The Friends of Change

Change is inevitable.

My life opens a new chapter in a few days. For two years, I’ve been on a roller coaster of highs and lows I hesitate to think about. The most important lesson I have learned is this:

Strap yourself in for the ride.

From one day to the next, we are lulled into the illusion of security. Over months and years, we adapt to repetition and our brains push similar experiences into the background just as they’re supposed to.

Life takes different turns than we anticipate.

The shock to the system is unsettling, rattling our minds and burning the blankets of safety draped over our plans. These moments, the scanty few when everything explodes before your eyes, burn deep impressions into our memory banks. When we look back to see how far we’ve come, this is where we point.

What defines us is our response during the harrowing events.

As everything crashes around us, the temptation is to fall to pieces ourselves. In fact, doing so is the easy option, the path of least resistance. Staring at the rubble would make any of us question the sense of making another go, discouragement is natural.

Shrinking is unacceptable.

I’ve been knocked off my feet by the shockwave of an atomic bomb several times–launched by others or dropped on myself by accident–and I’ve realized what’s important always remains. The trivial is too weak to withstand a hundred-megaton blast and is vaporized by the heat and pressure.

What really matters is too solid to collapse.

“Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel” Shakespeare tells us. When fire rages through our hopes and dreams, torching all we wished for, the mere thought of these relationships galvanizes us for the rebuilding effort. Some will help with reconstruction and others will support from afar.

Thank them.

Tell them you love them.

Offer help when they need it.

Finding the means to keep going is easier when you have some friends.

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Leading Under the Influence

Power is said to be an aphrodisiac.

I often wonder if the effect is felt most by the individual in control or the recipient. The charge from commanding others to submit would seem to flow best in one direction—the opposite of those oppressed.

Who wants to spend life bending to the will of another?

Think about the iron-fisted dictators in your life—a tyrannical boss or demanding relative—are you eager to do anything for them? How quick are you to roll your eyes when their back is turned?

Imposing authority on others is a lonely endeavor.

People are low priority.

Fear reigns.

Resentment grows.

Productivity plummets.

Doors close.

Influence is far more effective and rewarding.

Force wanes.

Free will is respected.

Relationships flourish.

Growth is projected.

The foundation of success—in any area—is built on cooperation.

In order for others to invest in your movement, you must share something with them. Allow them to see your vision. Invite them to participate. Encourage creativity.

Provide opportunity instead of taking what you can.

Giving like this inevitably leads to getting.

How powerful is that?

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The Best of Friends

Real friends are crucial to any endeavor.

Something about honesty–even when confrontational–opens new, wider viewpoints.

The questions are pointed and direct.

“What do you think is wrong?” requires you to look at the whole picture. “Why?” asks you to define and defend your perspective.

You gain strength from this clarity.

The challenge is meant to galvanize you, to bring forth your passion–or anger–and fan the flame of your burning heart.

This tunes the instrument of your happiness.

You become focused and driven.

Your batteries are charged by the infusion of energy.

Possibility abounds again in your mind, having heard your cheerleaders chant encouragement.

That’s what friends are for.

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Are You Selling or Sharing?

I stood in disbelief listening to a man in a cowboy hat.

My patience waned as he described the wonder product he felt I should learn more about. He passed me a business card while listing off a host of professional athletes endorsing the thingamajig and guaranteed I’d be impressed by the medical knowledge displayed in the final two-thirds of the eighteen-minute video on his website.

“You expect me to spend twenty minutes of my precious free time watching that after you just hijacked 60 seconds of my life?” I thought.

I wondered how “Where are you heading on your trip?” became “Please tell me what you’re selling!” in his mind.

The sudden shift jarred my brain.

My genuine interest in his 50-day excursion through the Southeast dissipated in the train wreck of his sales pitch. I remembered Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.

The value of his wares–regardless of how grand–disappeared in the shadow of his actions. The clumsy transition from polite conversation to infomercial muted his voice. What began pleasant became unsavory.

I left the conversation somewhat offended.

Later, I pondered how often we confront unwanted communication.  In an age where information reaches across the globe in seconds, the propaganda bombardment mushrooms outward with each passing moment.

Regardless of native tongue, the tagline is always the same:

“You need this.”

The underlying point of most advertising is designed to make you feel inadequate, as though you lack a critical necessity. An oft-repeated mantra in the marketing world states reaching humans boils down to stimulating their desire for pleasure or making them afraid of pain.

Most choose to prey on fear.

I was reminded of a conversation I overheard the day before while dining at a fast food restaurant.

Three generations of black men discussed about the value of experienced eyes. The youngest quietly took in the thoughts of the verbose man two decades older as the the third–and oldest–added his own ideas from time to time.

This impromptu sermon had a decidedly different tone than my interaction with the guy in the boots.

“Can I help you?”

Though I am unsure the 29-year-old asked for the message, I am sure he was happy to receive it. In the midst of an uncertain time, he heard four comforting words:

“I’m here for you.”

Instead of being rapped on the skull with what he should do or admonished for what he did do, he was being offered an ear–and the opportunity to avoid repeating another’s mistakes.

This is the simplest gift you’ll ever give someone.

Showing people you care has incredible value.

Find a way to share yourself.

You’ll be surprised what you receive in return.

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Giving Is Living

My best friend and I have been competing against each other for years.

It’s a stealthy contest of one-upmanship, typically initiated via text message.  The response to the challenge is almost unconscious, something I realized we do just last night.  Every once in a while, one tells the other how much the friendship is appreciated.    This first thrust of gratitude is immediately parried and countered with a heartfelt expression of thanks.  Before long, it dissolves into the ridiculous (and mildly disgusting) argument of puppy-lovestruck teenagers:

I’m the lucky one.”

“No, I am.”

This is a game that can only produce two winners.  Over the course of six-plus years, she’s been there through break-ups and breakdowns, successes and failures.  She’s consoled me gently and encouraged me forcefully.  This woman is one of the kindest and most generous people anyone could ever be granted the privilege to know.  I’ve grown to cherish her so much I constantly feel compelled to do more for her, because I feel she’s given me more than I can repay.  Funny thing is, she feels the same in the opposite direction.

Regardless of how far we drift (or others may attempt to push us) apart, we always have the other’s back.  In the silence of despair, each of us is blindly aware of where to lean in our darkest hours.  Plainly, the relationship is a lasting pillar in our lives.

As I read through The Go-Giver for something like the fifteenth time this week, I was struck by the phrase below and how it encapsulates our relationship:

“It’s not better to give than to receive.  It’s insane to try to give and not receive.

“Trying not to receive is not only foolish, it’s arrogant.  When someone gives you a gift, what gives you the right to refuse it–to deny their right to give?”

The lessons of Bob Burg and John David Mann apply across the spectrum of experience.  That putting yourself forth for someone else–spouse, friends, clients–sets you up to receive grandly is a matter of irrefutable fact.  The people you choose to serve will unconsciously strive to return the courtesy in like measure.

Giving wholeheartedly and without remorse is the simplest way for you to succeed in business and relationships.

You may make a fortune.  You will make a life.

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