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March 20, 2019

You need friends.

Stick with me on this one…I’ll get to the point…

My old friend Jim and I met 15 years ago, when we worked together for a Fortune 500 company.

I was living in San Diego at the time, he in North Carolina (or was it South?).

I traveled 100k air miles a year (the airline’s Presidential membership card told me so) and he traveled twice that many.

He joined me on trips to visit clients, we often had down time in places far and away from our families.

It was Jim who taught my young spirited self about corporate America and the perceptions of others (especially for a young female) and it was Jim who handed me a golf club and said, “learn this sport, the best business happens on the golf course.”

Mid way through my employment with the company I went through a personally rough time, his wisdom on our travels was a welcome relief and he was nothing short of inspirational if not downright funny.

Some of the life experiences I had with Jim are still stories I share with friends and family (like the time I got a staph infection on my thumb from a paper cut on a flight to Hawaii, Jim and I were grabbing a quick bite before our return flight when the bartender at the airport gave me two shots of vodka (one to drink for the pain and one to stick my thumb in). When I retell these stories I never say “my old coworker,” I say “an old friend I worked with.”
Jim and I shared a mutual friend, my direct sales report who he’d known for years, Steve.

Steve was a jolly guy who was always good for a laugh…I remember the story of the time the flight crew got Steve mixed up with an Air Marshall who was also on board. They kept asking to verify “the package.” Steve quite perplexed (and not even remotely the visual you would expect out of an Air Marshall) about passed out when they asked to see his weapon, sir.

The people who I met at that company are still some of my favorite people I have ever worked with, I consider them mentors to this day. I remember the day my boss, Rich, told me that he knew this was “just a stop on my resume” and to make the most of this experience, to take what I wanted from it. I still appreciate his kindness and ability to see who I was as a person. I learned from Rich, that when you give people space to shine, they will often surprise you with their ability to grow beyond any expectations you could have had.

But I tell you all that to tell you this.

Out of nowhere Jim popped up in my inbox last week. I hadn’t really talked to him in awhile…probably a few years back, after Steve died of cancer.

He sent an email out to “undisclosed recipients,” about friends.

The whole email was mind stopping.

But more than the words were the fact he thought to include me. It made me realize and remember that people come into our lives all the time, sometimes albeit briefly, and have a great impact on who we are, and who we will become.

Sometimes we seek out these people and sometimes they just appear.

Sometimes they hurt us and teach us something about ourselves, and sometimes they offer support while we learn more about who we are. Sometimes they leave us, good terms and bad, sometimes we leave them.

But you need a friend.

You need a good friend. You need past friends who are friends no longer. You need people who come into your life and mean something, even if the closeness doesn’t last forever.

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