I usually make the written version of my speeches available. Normally the topics are directly related to Marketing, but I've gotta give it a break sometimes... So this week I talked on "Friendship":
[BTW: I took my own advice from the last post, and told a story - I think it worked out quite nicely]...
Friendship is like money: Easier made than kept.
Through regular deposits of happiness and support, a small investment in friendship can grow into a vast wealth of joy and love.
Perhaps there is only one thing better than making a new friend: keeping an old one.
Donâ€™t we all have someone that we havenâ€™t seen or spoken to in a while, whose friendship would be really good to have again?
I think we all have at least one of those people.
Nothing gives life as much meaning as the friendships we forge and the connections we make with other people:
I know a man, called John, whose life story helped me understand this:
John was very bright, honest and hardworking. As a young man in his twenties, he met the right people, and through bold dealmaking, marketing skill and creativity he managed to move up from managing a small vegetable store in Krugersdorp to being part owner of a large hotel in Joburg central.
Johnâ€™s success continued in his thirties, and with his beautiful wife, he opened South Africaâ€™s first upmarket nightclub. They entertained the countryâ€™s most dazzling celebrity elite, but it was hard work â€“ often hands on: one time, while he was looking at a lighting glitch in the ceiling he slipped and fell through the roof!
Fortunately he lived, and by the time he was in his forties, he was doing international trade, working with the highest levels of government.
He was a show-off because he could get away with it. The world was at his feet, and whenever he could, he made sure the people around him knew it.
One problem thoughâ€¦ one little unforeseen factor that he wasnâ€™t counting on:
Back in his thirties, when he fell through that ceiling board â€“ he gave his head quite a bumpâ€¦ now 15 years later, signs of epilepsy had started. By the time he was in his 50â€™s he had somehow bungled virtually every deal that he was involved in. And was no longer able to work.
By the time he was 60, the man â€“ who always put his country before his family â€“ and his business before his people had lost his money.
Strangely, he could live with that. What was worse, was that he was all aloneâ€¦ Sure he had his country still. And no-one could take away the business stories he had â€“ but there was no-one around to listen to them.
He was destitute, with every possibility of ending up on the street. His life had come full circle, and he realised, at last, that all he really wanted was Love.
Euripides said: â€œIt is a good thing to be rich, it is a good thing to be strong, but it is a better thing to be beloved of many friendsâ€?.
Do we sometimes take friendship for granted as we pour our energies into our careers and duties?
We have already agreed on how useful friendship is. Most people, realising this, spare no expense in impressing the socks off complete strangers! This, sadly, is more dangerous than we might think â€“ as John showed us.
I believe that Johnâ€™s shortcoming was that he never realized that friendship is a slow ripening fruit. He was, like so many people, running around the world scattering the seeds of friendship â€“ but never returning to nurture the seeds to ensure that they grow.
None of us want to end up like John â€“ he proved how fleeting material wealth can be. True friendship, on the other hand, probably makes up the better part of a life well lived.
Fortunately, though, John wasnâ€™t a complete wally, and this story has a happy ending:
Ironically, John became a resident of a non-profit old age home that he helped establish in wealthier times. Not having much else to do, he made friends with a lady in her 80â€™s. The old woman, delighted at having a younger friend got her sons and grandsons to help John with a cellphone, a computer and a suit so he could do what he loved â€“ business. Last week, John concluded his first major contract since the early 1990â€™s â€“ apparently friendship calms the nerves and reduces his epilepsy!
The pursuit of our passions doesnâ€™t preclude the nurturance of strong, committed friendships. In fact, sometimes an old friend could save us from one of lifeâ€™s unexpected nasty surprises.
Part of the reason we are here is to network with each other. But with the possibility of making lots of new friends, let us not forget the benefits of old friends either.