Monday, December 14

“Make service your first priority, not success, and success will follow.” Author Unknown

This quote has a number of very interesting economic and business applications, but I’m not going to touch them today no matter how tempted I am. I’d rather focus on this quote from a more personal perspective: How we conduct the relationships in our lives.

A friend of mine was once telling me about a ‘client friend’ she had that ate up a lot of her personal resources.

I stopped her and asked, ‘Client friend?’

She said, ‘Yeah, a client friend: Someone that you are a friend too, but that isn’t really a friend to you. You’re there to serve them in some way for a time, but you know that you’ll never get any dividend other than the warm feeling from helping them.’ I loved the concept and it clarified several relationships in my life when, at different times, I’d been a ‘friend to client’ and ‘client friend’.

I’m sure we’ve all seen that chain e-mail that discusses the concept of friends for reasons, seasons and lifetimes. I think the idea of client friends applies mostly to ‘reason’ and ‘season’ friends if you’re wondering – lifetime friends tend to be ones that involve a healthy level of give and take and mutual support. That said, when I applied the concept of client friends to that platitude, I made a few promises to myself:

  • I promised that I would, if at all possible, never be a client friend. To me this means that I will give in a friendship, any friendship, in whatever way I can, so as to be a benefit to my friends in full measure (if not in the same currency) as they are friend to me.
  • I promised that I would, if possible, always give more than I received in any relationship. Not to my detriment if possible, and not as a form of competition, but just because I want to serve those I love.
  • I promised to receive freely from any friend that wished to give to me. An old folk saying goes something like, ‘In receiving a gift, we honor the giver’. I will strive to not require another’s service, but when it is offered, I will receive it gratefully.
  • I promised that I would never turn away from a potential ‘client friend’. This would be a sort of karmic service, one freely given.
It’s sort of the golden rule with self-imposed interest. It isn’t always the most materially profitable course of action, but then I have a low opinion of materialism, so that works just fine.

I tend to experience a very high rate of emotional and intellectual return though. My account balance for things like positive regard, trust, honesty, respect, love and support, the kind I know I can count on no matter what the circumstances are, is very healthy.

By that measure, I’m wealthy already. And I like that measure.