“I’m a success today because I had a friend that believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” – Abraham Lincoln
A wise person once told me “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It’s true. Intangible qualities are great, hard work and dedication often pay off, and nobody likes a social climber that shows up at the christmas party with business cards. Ultimately though often progress in business and life come down to a connection you have made. Want a girl that’s not giving you any play, get in with her friends. Need a raise? Kiss your bosses ass. Make friends with the butcher, get the best steak. Dad is President, you can be too. This is the world we live in and anyone who wants to argue can, but your wrong. There are always outliers. Your Nelson Mandela or your Kobe Bryant. But in reality this law applies to both of them as well. Mandela saw a side of the country apartheid conscious politicians paid no mind to. Although he was not in favor with the powerful he knew the masses well. Kobe grew up in Italy and developed a devastating iso game making him one of the most prolific scorers ever. But to be the greatest you need some help from guys named Phil Jackson, Shaq, Fisher, Gasol, and now Dwight. Nobody does it on their own no matter how gifted.
I want you to think back in your life and contemplate how you got your job, or your girlfriend, your car, your college degree. Who helped you out along the way. A lot of people like to think they did everything on their own but thats bullshit. Your ability to help yourself is almost always enabled by what other people allow you to do. Some are extremely gifted physically or mentally but if they are never given the opportunity to develop and showcase those talents then it’s all for nothing. For every Mozart there are ten composers that never got the chance to grow into those shoes.
I will give you some real life examples of this mantra I have experienced in my own life.
When I was a senior in high school going to Sailfest was still cool. For those of you that don’t know what that is I will elaborate. I grew up in a small town in New Jersey where nothing ever really happened. One time a couple of thirteen year old kids faked a shooting to scare the shit out of a couple trying to have sex in a car but that is another story entirely. I can still vividly remember being in sixth grade, sitting on the swings talking about how I couldn’t wait to get out of that hell hole. Enter rebel without a cause. For a kid between the ages of ten and seventeen Island Heights is a police state, a semi-retirment village, overrun with preppy yacht shoe Adidas backpack toting tool bags, there existed one salvation, Sailfest. A twenty four hour period where people would take off the white gloves and get a little unhinged in the name of various charities. The great American tradition of celebration through destruction. Think Fourth of July minus the patriotism, or a country music concert. The populace of adults and cops would be preoccupied with a band, arts and crafts, street fair food, and a beer truck which for one day drew enough outsiders to effectively doubled the population of my town. So for a couple of hours, finally and at long last we (the spastic inebriated youth) would have control of the town. It’s amazing how fast a relatively unknown town on the outskirts of high school civilization can fill up with teenagers when there are cases of beer up for grabs and little adult supervision. The streets turn into a kind of loose nightclub for people that don’t have id’s and even if they bought fakes the most inept bouncer would laugh at them. Some of the best time of my young life were during those magical night in September. The first time I touched a boob, the first time I funneled a beer, ran from the cops, puked on my shoes, publicly fornicated. Ah youth. But to the point…
When I was a senior in high school going to Sailfest was still cool. I had a bunch of friends at my house, my parents were out and we were playing beer pong. At this party something happened that I can only call fate. One of my friends, lets call her Lucy, invited some guy she had met in one of her classes to come by. This unknown party crashing freeloader brought his friend, lets call him Bob. When I first met Bob I asked him how he got into my house and why the hell was he drinking a jug of wine? Was he some random homeless kid? Carlo and Rossi? Dude your eighteen what the hell are you thinking? Bob told me he was Lucy’s friend. When I asked Lucy about the jug chugging intruder she said that she didn’t know who he was. In the process of sorting all of this out, Lucy and Bob got to talking and kind of hit it off. Now five years later they are engaged. This might seem like a stretch for the point I am trying to make but the fact is they would have never met if it wasn’t for the strange connection of seemingly random relationships.
Ok, how about one a little more direct. When I was nineteen I got a job working at the Bamboo bar. Again I will elaborate. Bamboo is the biggest nightclub on the Jersey Shore. Two stories of drunken debauchery lit by pink florescence bumping and grinding its way through hot summer nights into hazy summer mornings. The amount of friends, money, and stories I accumulated while there are still too numerous for me too honestly count. The things that happened to me during my time at Bamboo have irreparably changed who I am as a human being. One day I will definitely write some examples down here but now is not the time.
I got the job not because I had any kind of experience or because I was tenaciously trying to get hired, I got the job because I had an in. My aunt knew one of the managers, I was the right age and for some reason or another they seemed to like me. So I got the job that any warmblooded American boy would kill for on a whim, because of who I knew.
This fact can be traced through modern history and through your own life. If you deny it you are likely a megalomaniac. The lesson here is that you should go out of your way to consider other people. Try to be friendly and outgoing, give a helping hand. You never know who your going to meet or help out that could do the same for you in the future. I think this saying is really just a way of trying to make you be conscious of how you interact with people. Don’t burn bridges, don’t talk down to people like they are inferior, try to give someone the time of day even if you don’t have it. It’s not enough in this world to be tireless in perfecting yourself, you have to give some effort to the relationships you have with other people. You will get ahead faster that way. In the words of The Beatles, “Ill get by with a little help from my friends.”