Friends, the Salt of Life
Why They Make It All Worthwhile
by Eric Wright
Howard Hughes was one of the most interesting and financially successful men of his generation. At 19, he won a legal battle to control the estate left to him by his father, and then leveraged those resources in California to become an early movie producer, making over 25 films, while gaining control of RKO Pictures. His fame grew, as did his success in breaking aviation records and building one of the era’s largest commercial airlines, TWA. He also was a key player in making Las Vegas the tourist destination it has grown into today. When he died, Hughes was one of America’s wealthiest men, but amazingly, no one claimed his body.
This is how Time magazine (Dec. 1976) covered his passing: “Howard Hughes’ death was commemorated in Las Vegas by a minute of silence. Bustling casinos were quiet. Housewives stood uncomfortable, clutching cups full of coins at the slot machines, the blackjack games paused and at the crap tables the stickmen cradled his dice. Then a pit boss looked at his watch, leaned forward and whispered: ‘O.K., roll the dice. He’s had his minute.’”
Linda Ellis wrote a poem called “The Dash,” which is that simple mark appearing on a tombstone between the date of birth and the date of death. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, seemed to understand one of the primary ingredients in making “the dash” meaningful and memorable: “Without friends, no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.”
He later added, “True friends are a sure refuge. When you’re young they keep you out of mischief; when old they are a comfort and aid in weakness; and for those in the prime of life they incite to noble deeds.”
There is a lot of talk about “networking” these days, but the real basis of networking isn’t manipulating a relationship for personal gain, but developing trusted friends. As Dale Carnegie once 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.”
Being a True Friend
Over two thousand years ago Solomon gave four timeless ingredients for being a friend:
- Friends help friends succeed in life. Solomon said, “Two are better than one.” This isn’t just synergy, it is that we need people with whom we can share our dreams, who will celebrate our success and who in turn inspire us by their abilities or character.
- Friends pick up friends when they fall. Notice I said “when” not “if;” we all stumble and fall. The defining issue is whether or not we choose to stay down and often it is our friends who come alongside and say, “You may have failed, but you’re not a failure. All success stories are about comebacks.”
- Friends are warm in the cold seasons of life. The crisis can be financial, relational or physical; often that is when real friendship is actually discovered. C.S. Lewis once said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.”
- Friends stand up for their friends. I recently visited the Navy SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce. What struck me was these elite groups of fighters are bound together, not just by mental and physical training, but by a camaraderie which demands that no SEAL is left behind in combat, even if he is fatally wounded.
A respected author and speaker, Eric Wright is the assignment editor for SpaceCoast Business magazine and the founder and pastor of Journey Church in Suntree