There have always been selfish people who extracted every last drop of blood of those around them for personal gain. They stand out in our memories & in world history.
But more recently the growth of the entrepreneur spirit (& its own brand of online marketing) seems to have hijacked the concept of friends & relationships, changing them from interactions in which we give & take, talk about the small things in life that matter, share our joys & concerns & actually just ‘be’ with others into strategic alliances & friendships which will boost our success, exposure & income & get us where we want to be.
‘You are only as good as the friends you keep‘
‘Don’t let those around you pull you down‘
‘Find people much better than yourself to pull you up to better performance‘
‘Help others & they will help you (& get you where you want to be)‘
Anyone notice one word that repeats ad-nauseum? You (ie. me).
It’s all about us. It’s all about what we can gain from our relationships. It’s all about being with an in-crowd & casting off any members of the out-crowd. In short, it is narcissism & nepotism at its worst: it is all about me!
I understand the need to be careful with who we choose as our friends. I understand about the need to be inspired by & learn from others. I understand about improvement.
But I reject that I am only as good as the friends I keep. That is total bollocks! I have my own intrinsic value despite the friends I keep, the grades I score in exams, the bank balance I have, the house or car I have or my signs of success. I am who I am. These other things are simply trimmings that I may (or may not) wish to show to others.
They do not define me: I define them.
Friendship & relationship is as much about what we give as what we receive & I am NOT talking about the entrepreneur definition of giving which is the ‘law of reciprocation’ i.e.. give to others so that they feel indebted to you & will give back. No! No! No!
I give because I want to, no questions asked, no repayment expected.
I give because another person is in need, not because they will have to pay me back later.
I give because it is the right thing to do.
In a world increasingly obsessed with self, increasingly telling us that we need to be hugely successful financially so that we can climb off the world & enjoy our own little nirvana & yet a world that is increasingly dissatisfied with itself, is it not time to ask some questions & think about reversing this obscene trend.
We all want some element of success in our lives & we all need a certain level of income to survive & perhaps have a few luxuries too, but I become ever more disillusioned with those who show us their multiple mansions & collection of unbelievably expensive cars AND STILL they go after more mansions, more cars & greater income. In one word it is greed.
There is an upside to some of these people: they re-invest some of their money into social projects that help people at home & abroad. But is it sacrificial giving? Does it really cost them anything? Is it spare change? Why do they do it: to help or raise their own profile? I don’t hear many of these super-rich entrepreneurs actually going down the league tables of wealth through their giving. Perhaps those who do just keep it quiet; out of the limelight; out of the media.
I was interested in a recent Forbes survey showing that the author J.K. Rowling actually slipped out of the top billionaires through the amount she gave away. When asked why, she stated that ‘Nobody needs that much money!‘
If we believe in the power of small change to bring big change then shouldn’t we be looking to buck the trend. Shouldn’t we be looking to apply social examples that fly in the face of self-interest, self-indulgence & personal success. Shouldn’t we start focussing on those around us, building them up at personal cost to us, befriending them because they need friends who can help them & start being long-term friends because that is what we mutually want & need, looking away from ourselves rather than having disposable friends who are great whilst they serve our purpose but are just as quickly discarded when we spot someone else who can take us on the next step of where we want to be.
Financial success & personal contentment are not goals that we should reject outright: without wealthy people who are generous with their time, energy & money many of the essential social changes cannot gain momentum & thrive. But to aim for financial success & happiness as ends in their own right is, in my opinion, missing the mark & selling others (& ourself) short.
Take care until next time …