The Hartfield Jackson International airport in Atlanta USA is reputed to be the busiest airport in the world. It must be. I have never had to stay so long on a queue (and there are usually several of such queues at any time in this airport) to clear immigration as I have many times had to do at the Atlanta airport. On one of my trips to the US, I spent over two hours to make it through immigration customs and baggage claim because of the sheer volume of people! It is a marvel though, how organized things are, despite the hectic passenger traffic. In recent times though, the services seem to have significantly improved.
A few years ago, as I concluded security checks on my way out of Atlanta, on my way to board the aircraft, I saw an advertorial on a lighted billboard on which was inscribed, “Female mackerels can lay half a million eggs at once. They have no time for building relationships. But you can!”
Out of the several advertorials on the walls of the airport, this particular one caught and sustained my attention. I cannot remember the name of the company that placed the advert there but while I waited at the boarding area for my next flight, the inscription was all I could think about.
If care is not taken, the success journey can, in reality, be like the life of the female mackerel. It is a journey that can birth several acquaintances but very few relationships.
In the quest for success, many people end up becoming lonely, for the simple reason that they hardly have time to build solid relationships. Rather than cultivate relationships, they merely use people to advance their personal success goals. I have noticed however that one remarkable difference between flash-in-the-pan rich people and those who are truly wealthy is in the quality of their relationship network.
Success at the expense of people is one of the highest forms of failure. Any success that isolates you from everyone around you or which you get by taking undue advantage of people is nothing but misery and loneliness. Such success is not sustainable. In building wealth, highly successful people also build bridges. The logic is simple: your net worth is greatly enhanced and sustained by your network.
Nobody succeeds all by himself. We were created for relationship. Everybody’s success is the result of the collective efforts of several people. We all need people who play various roles in our lives at different times: from the teacher who was your greatest inspiration and encourager in your elementary school days to the driver who taught you how to drive. It could be the clerk who moved your file from one table to another when you were due for a promotion or chasing a contract or the person whose signature made it possible. This is not to mention parents, siblings and other family members who helped us to lay the foundation for our strongest convictions and value system.
God positions people at strategic points of our lives to move us forward, even as the devil also positions people at strategic points to move us backwards.
Unfortunately for many of us, it is easier to remember those whose interventions in our life delayed or frustrated us than we do those whose involvement helped us to succeed.
Look around you. Your office. Your family. Your school. Your neighbourhood. Your village. Your business circle. You will no doubt find that there are many heroes that you have not celebrated enough because you thought that having done whatever they did in your life, their time was over and so you latched on to new alignments. Trust me, the new alignments will also fizzle out as soon as you have used them to carry out your next agenda. In the process, you simply recharge your card of acquaintances, junking the card afterwards – since you only need the airtime!
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Whenever this happens, you are unwittingly building up a relationship deficit that will eventually haunt you at the most critical points of your life. You will one day suddenly discover that you know people, they know you, perhaps they even applaud you and your achievements, but you have no FRIEND! But what is the value of success in life without real friends to share it with?
The one downside of success is the fact that it attracts sycophants and fair-weathercock acquaintances in the same way that sugar attracts ants. Unfortunately, the bloated human ego panders to flattery because it feeds off the labyrinths of sugar-coated accolades that may not even have any reflection of reality.
When the chips are down, do you really have FRIENDS, or are you a female mackerel?
Make a list of all the relationships in your life right now and you may be in for a shocker. How many on the list would you really call friends? Or better still, how many of them would call you ‘friend’? The word FRIENDSHIP is a much-abused word. Quite often we substitute that word for ACQUAINTANCE.
All the half a million eggs of the female mackerel are acquainted with it but none has a deeper relationship with it. Have you ever been surrounded by people and yet felt so lonely – and sometimes downright suspicious because of that discomfiting feeling that you are seeing as many agenda as you are seeing people? This is a price that stardom pays every day. Ask anyone who is a public figure or in the limelight, especially sportsmen and women, musicians, actors, frontline political figures etc. Many of them are lonely and depressed because even though they are constantly surrounded by people, they recognize soon enough that most of the people around them simply come for the jolly ride on the fame train.
I have tried studying the subject of friendship. I found out that the bookstores have more books on relationship management – viewed largely from a self-centred, pecuniary perspective – than they do on friendship. It shows how little we really understand the subject. I then went online and saw a number of websites dedicated to the subject but none really addressed the core issues. This is why someone may have 5000 friends on Facebook and hundreds of thousands of followers without having any intimate connection with up to five of them in real life. Being a social media influencer is not synonymous with having friends!
My most satisfying moments came when I turned to the Holy Bible to study the subject. The study was very revealing and I would like to share my findings with you. In my study, I succeeded in summarizing the elements of true, genuine, God-ordained friendship with the acronym of the word itself, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.H.I.P…
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!