It was last year in the rainy month of November. My mother was arriving from Rumphi on a night bus. She would be at Lilongwe Bus Depot by 2 o’clock in the morning.
My wife and I were in Blantyre and so we just told her to get a taxi home. She was stiff scared with the idea of taking a taxi by herself and so she out-rightly declined the suggestion. But I could not imagine my mum sleeping in the bus depot until daybreak. So, I called a friend who knew a few taxis to help me arranging for one. Surprisingly, the friend was more than willing to pick her up himself despite being night and raining cats and dogs. When we arrived home the following day, we found my mum in a new sweater. Apparently, she had forgotten hers and another friend who spotted her in Mzuzu looking cold just went into a shop and bought her one – a very expensive one.
How many of us have such friends whom we can call upon when we are stranded, bereaved, or simply want to celebrate with. Cultivating and maintaining genuine friendships is an important asset. More important than money. You see, many people place so much value on money and forget friends in the process. In fact, most people build friendships based on how much people can offer them in return. But trust me, it reaches a point in life when you just need friends, even just to talk to, no matter how much money you have.
Maintaining good relationships is very important. Even in the work place, think about it for a moment. What happens if your relationship with your boss and your coworkers sours? You are stressed, can lose your job—your income goes down. What happens if you build stronger relationships with your boss and your coworkers? You are happy and hence perform better, get pay raises and promotions, and assume bigger projects—your income goes up.
The same applies to your personal life. Let’s say you are about to move. If you have a lot of real friends, a few phone calls will get you all the help you need. If you don’t have these relationships, you will be shelling out cash for a moving service (a big cost) or doing it yourself (a huge time sink).
From this, it is easy to see that building up a lot of real relationships with people is valuable. What do I mean by a real relationship? I’m referring to one where something of positive value is exchanged on a regular basis—useful advice, a helping hand, loaning of items, an ear to truly listen, and so on. Any relationship worth its salt has a healthy dose of positive exchanges of value with a minimum of negative exchanges (insults, backstabbing, gossip, incorrect advice, being an obstacle).
I confess that for a long time, I didn’t know how to do this well at all. It wasn’t that I thought other people should give me value in exchange for nothing— I just simply didn’t understand the value of such exchanges.
Give of yourself freely. If someone needs help, help. Don’t worry about payback. Don’t worry about what you might get out of it. Just help them. If you contact someone and find out they are stuck on a project, need a job, or need a helping hand in some other way, either provide that help yourself (if you can) or find someone who can provide that help and make the connection.