If you watch the news or read the news every day, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the continued bad news about the economy. It’s hard to find good news in our business and sometimes you have to seek it out. Mixed in with all the bad news, some companies are doing well; others see positive signs for the future. Our economy is always changing and there has been and always will be highs and lows, good times and bad.
I’ve never been one to subscribe to the Ostrich technique. Sticking one’s head in the sand, even if you’re an ostrich, doesn’t seem like a good plan. In fairness, though, I understand your average ostrich can live to be about 70 years old, and most ostriches I’ve seen appear to be relatively stress-free.
I’ve been reminded recently of the best medicine I know of to deal with day-to-day stress and the onslaught of bad news. I had two meetings last week, one sort of a business mixed with friendship and the other purely friends getting together. I left both meetings feeling better about things in general. In the first meeting, I spent a couple of hours with a business partner and friend. I’ll call him Doug. Doug and I talked business for a while, but mostly talked about life, and family and things that matter. There’s wasn’t a news channel within sight of where we met and that might have been the key. The world continued spinning, the markets kept moving, but we talked only about things that mattered to us. Good friends and good time spent with a good friend is priceless and free.
A couple days later I had lunch with two long-time friends. I’ll call them Keith and John. Every once in while we get together for lunch at a nearby meat and three. We meet early, we eat slowly, and we talk about everything under the sun. I like my time with Keith and John because while we’re all three very different, we have much in common. I won’t speak for my friends, but for me it’s a completely different kind of lunch than I could have with anyone else. We talk about personal stuff and talk about some of those things in total confidence and friendship. I trust my friends and know I can be open, honest and just be myself. You can’t always do that, you know.
The market can fall like a rock, but my friends will be my friends. I can be a local news anchor or not be one and they would be my friends. They don’t care what I do. They’ve convinced me that we’re friends because we just are. We don’t have to impress or exaggerate or talk much about ourselves. We talk about family and we talk about good memories of people we’ve mutually admired. And to be completely honest here, we probably talk about some things and share some personal thoughts that we might not share with anyone else in the world. Do you understand how precious that is?
About once every six weeks, I have lunch with a friend of 30 years; in fact, he was one of the first people I met when I moved to Birmingham almost 30 years ago. I’ll call him Joe. Joe is one of the smartest and kindest men I know. He’s also one of the most genuinely funny people I know. When I have lunch with Joe, I invariably say to my wife that night, “the next time I seem a little down, remind me to have lunch with Joe.” I always feel better and have my priorities in better order after time with him. His friendship is priceless and free.
Sometimes I’ve been bad about putting off lunch with my friends. I’m not going to do that anymore. I’ve come to realize how important they are to me and how, as I get older, I need them more than ever. After one’s faith and family, I can’t think of anything more important.
As we wait for better news here and around the world, just a friendly reminder today to hold tightly to your precious friends, friends who are priceless and free.
See you tonight at 5:00, 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.