In the first part of this series titled “Priorities Part I: Concerning Freemasonry” I revealed our intention to include our experiences in Freemasonry as material for this blog as related to personal development for entrepreneurs. In the second part titled “Priorities Part II: Effective Prioritization” I identified a list of priorities as originated by Darin Krum during a recent visit to Adams Lodge in Wellfleet, MA which I recently attended and I had found mirrored my own experience. I will conclude the series by expanding the list of priorities and adding another priority which I have found useful in my experience.
An Additional Priority
I would like to expand the priorities provided by Darin Krum to include a category of “friends” as a second priority; the revised list is as follows:
I included the second priority of friends for two important reasons. First, during one particular challenging period of my life, a true friend said to me – “John, your friends will stick with you no matter what you do.” I have found this to be true, there are many acquaintances that appear to be friends and many friends that appear to be acquaintances, but your true friends “will stick with you no matter what you do.” True friends realize that people evolve and change over time, especially those committed to life long learning. True friends also realize that your growth path may not be aligned to your old self, or may even contradict with their core values or belief system. Your true friends will stick with you regardless of your evolutionary path – they appreciate you for your differences.
Next time something drastic happens in your life – a career change, change in financial status, a change of life event such as a new addition to the family, or even a divorce – take note of who remains in your life and who leaves, and how quickly they rally around you or leave. Those who bolt at the first sign of trouble are not your friends and are of the fair weather variety. Those who weather the storm and stick with you are true friends. Even better, people you may have once been categorized as “acquaintances” who begin to rally around you, should be upgraded to “friends” and be treated as such.
Last year when I decided to take the entrepreneurial leap and make the transition from a “stable” corporate career to an entrepreneurial path, I both invigorated and frightened those around me. At that point, although I did not realize it at the time, I had very few entrepreneurial friends at the time. There were many people who talked about it, but very, very few who had actually quit their day job and took the plunge. The true entrepreneurs rallied around me and provided encouragement, and continue to do so to this day.
On the other hand, those who did not have the true entrepreneurial mindset, clearly did not understand. Why would I leave a “stable” corporate position with benefits, stock options, and a healthy salary? Why would I throw away a great life for a silly dream? Why take such haphazard risk? As to why I will revert to a common saying in the military and defense communities: “Freedom isn’t free.” I will expand upon this mindset in a future article.
Now those who did not understand were lumped into two camps. One, the “friends” who did not understand but had concerns for my well being would question me, but my sense was that they had a general sense of concern. This was most of my family and close circle of friends within the military, defense, and government communities – those accustomed to a stable, comfortable, middle-class environment. They did not abandon, however they questioned fiercely and frequently and just wanted to be sure I would be okay. Their concern stemmed from ignorance – they were ignorant as my path was very different from their own and inexperienced – and as a result scary.
Now the other camp viewed my actions, and ultimately me as a an unknown, and therefore a risk. Their actions mirrored that of a rats deserting a sinking ship. They did not understand, were very uncomfortable, and were certainly not going to stick around to view the fallout of a certain disaster. At the time I was saddened by this as once close friends were gone and really out of touch, surely they would be back at some point, however the realist in me knew it would never be the same.
I once read a concept in the book “Scaling Down: Living Large In A Smaller Space” by Judi Culbertson, Marj Decker, and George Booth, that was something to the effect of: if you do not clear old things out of your life you will not have room for new things to enter. Essentially your old stuff is possibly preventing something new and potentially good to enter. Although this book was referring to clutter in one’s home such as old possessions that have outlived their purpose – I have found this same theory relates to people. Although I was initially saddened by the departure of some in my circle, I was soon uplifted by new members who joined, once there was room in my life. Seriously consider this.
Amy had passed an important piece of information to me that her parents had passed down to her as a child: “people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” I have found this sentiment to be very true in my life. People come and go. Some may assist you with reaching the next step in your life, some stay longer than others, and others yet stick around for the duration. This is not to say that using a person is acceptable in any circumstance, it is just to convey the point that one should not be saddened by the coming and going of individuals in one’s life – everything is life is purposeful – even the coming and going of friends and acquaintances.
Prioritize For Success
In closing, family first, friends second, work third, and outside activities fourth. A strong family may be likened to that of a solid home foundation – a strong family will help you weather the strongest of storms, either within your family, complications with friends or work, or even outside organizations. Friends should serve as the secondary support network and as such be ranked just below family – however some friends may and should be considered family. Work is an enabler, and enables us to provide for ourselves, our families, friends, and improve our communities through the ability to make charitable donations either through monetary contributions or volunteerism and therefore should be ranked below family and friends. Finally, it is recommended that outside organizations serve as your last priority, although important in that they serve to improve yourself, others, and the community as a whole, in the grand scheme of things they are less important than family, friends, and work for the reasons stated above and in the preceding articles.
Although I believe that one should not have regrets in life as one makes choices in life based on information one has at a given moment in time and their experience and education achieved at that point. However, I believe that most who may have regrets at their final moments in life do so because their priorities in life were out of order. Think carefully about this and if you are living the life you would want to be remembered for and if your priorities reflect this. I will appropriately close with a favorite line of Masonic ritual I have encountered on many occasion – “live respectfully and die regrettably.”
Family, friends, work, and outside activities are an effective order of things!