Have you ever experienced the power of a stalwart and loyal friendship?
You may not be seeking, but don’t discount the possibility that it may be seeking you.
I have today’s poem printed in at least two works on my bookshelf.
One is Stephen Mansfield’s “Book of Manly Men” and the other is William Bennett’s “The Book of Virtues.” The former has it listed under a chapter on Sacrifice and the latter has it under the topic of Loyalty.
Loyalty does involve Sacrifice.
I’ve found that it is through professional pursuits that it is possible to approach this kind of tight bonding with others, as work can take the lion’s share of our life effort, When two people have a common mission and a unflappable sense of loyal friendship, it lays the ground work for some magic.
Having good friends, teammates and comrades are special gifts that life offers, but then on rare occasion there are the legendary relationships. Both in real life and in fiction there are dynamic duos who capture the imagination, causing hearts to beat and souls to stir with a cosmic energy.
Learning about life from novels
Long before I began studying personal development as a primary subject, I, for leisure, had read many books based on Nelson’s Navy of the 18th and 19th Century. The absolute best novel series I read was Patrick O’Brian’s works centered around his characters Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.
O’Brian’s writing have been described as “Jane Austen for men” but O’Brian didn’t just write in remarkable detail about domesticated life and of the halls of government, he also wrote in minute details of military operations, foreign cultures, the sea, sailing ships and the men who served on them.
The greatest attraction generated by his novels is the complex and loyal friendship of the two main characters, fighting men of common heart, and masters of two vastly differing skill sets. To make things complicated, at one point, as single men, they are in love with the same woman (have you ever had that kind of conflict with your best friend? That will certainly pressure test your relationship. O’Brian writes of it with all its passion).
How did they meet? They met at a concert, by chance seated next to each other. Both have a strong passion for music, even though had they passed each other on the street they would have written each other off as nothing special, even burdensome or irritating.
Another feature that resounds throughout the stories is the level of comraderie, loyalty and affection for their fellow sea officers and crew, which I believe is a natural spin off of the leadership style embodied by those with such high standards of loyalty and personal integrity.
I hope that each of you men and women who are building teams, regardless of your industry, may have the blessing of discovering a legendary kind of Jonathan-and-David relationship and that your life will be much richer because of it.
Now, let’s read Rudyard Kipling’s “The Thousandth Man”…
THE THOUSANDTH MAN
One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it’s worthwhile seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.
‘Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for ‘ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him,
The rest of the world don’t matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.
You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man he’s worth ’em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.
His wrong’s your wrong, and his right’s your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men’s sight—
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can’t bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot—and after!
— RUDYARD KIPLING
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