Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Friends Enrich Our Lives

Someone once asked a great philosopher what he would rather have – a gift of money or a gift of friendship.

“Friendship,” replied the philosopher, “because money is spent but friendship can last forever.”

Maybe this is why our greatest wealth is not measured in terms of riches but our relationships.  Friendship is the cement that holds the world together.

I’ve always felt that friends are like pillars on your house.  Sometimes they hold you up, and sometimes they lean on you.  Sometimes it’s just enough to know they’re standing by.

Friendship is so important we celebrate it several times during the year.  February is International Friendship Month, and Old Friends, New Friends Week is the third week of May. The first Sunday of August was declared as a U.S. holiday in honor of friends by a Proclamation made by Congress in 1935. Since then, World Friendship Day is celebrated every year on the first Sunday in August.

As novelist George Eliot describes it:  “Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.”

Wikipedia defines friendship as “a mutual affection between people . . . Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of such bonds (including) affection, kindness, love, virtue, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, loyalty, generosity, forgiveness, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings to others, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.  Friendship is an essential aspect of relationship building skills.”

That’s a fancy definition for what we all know is central to our happiness.  I can’t imagine a life without friends.

I cherish the friends I’ve known since childhood.  Along the way I’ve met friends through business, travel, sports and community.  They enrich my life and, perhaps just as important, know they can count on me to be there for them. 

One of the best books I’ve ever read and learned valuable lessons from is Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”  Carnegie said:  “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

To drive home the point, Carnegie tells how dogs have learned the fine art of making friends.  When you get within 10 feet of a friendly dog, it will begin to wag its tail.  If you take the time to pet the dog, it will become excited and lick and jump all over you to show how much it appreciates you.  The dog became man’s best friend by being genuinely interested in people.

Last September we lost an NFL legend in Chicago Bears running back Gayle Sayers.  I’m old enough to have followed his short, but brilliant career.  Yet what I remember most about Sayers is the memorable friendship he had with a running back teammate named Brian Piccolo, memorialized in the movie “Brian’s Song.”  Sayers was black, and Piccolo was white.  They were roommates when the team travelled, which was a first for race relations in professional football.

The two became very close friends and challenged each other.  When Sayers hurt his knee, Piccolo helped his friend through a grueling rehabilitation.  During the 1969 season, Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer and was in the hospital more than on the playing field.  Sayers was often at his bedside.

After that season Sayers was awarded the prestigious George S. Halas award as “the most courageous player in professional football.”  Sayers, Piccolo and their wives had made plans to go together to the annual Professional Football Writers’ Banquet in New York, but Piccolo was too sick to attend.

At the banquet Sayers struggled to speak and said:  “You flatter me by giving me this award, but I tell you here and now that I accept this award not for me, but for Brian Piccolo.  However, Brian cannot be here tonight.  He is too ill.  But Brian is a man who has more courage than any of us here tonight.  I love Brian Piccolo, and I’d like you to love him too.  When you hit your knees tonight, please ask God to love him too.”

Shortly after that memorable night, Brian Piccolo died.  These two tough football players had developed an unforgettable friendship.

Mackay’s Moral:  Good friends are like toothpaste.  They come through in a tight squeeze.

About the Author Harvey Mackay, Founder & CEO

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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