The Real Key to Success – Meaningful Relationships
We all want to get ahead in this life. It’s a universal desire to be successful. I’ve found over the years that the best and most satisfying way to achieve this goal is with those you care most about. I’ve touched on this before. Some of the greatest assets a person will ever gain in this life will be the meaningful relationships they foster along the way.
At every point of my life, I can point to people who significantly altered the course of my life – ultimately for the better. Even from my earliest years, I think of the relationship I had with my great-grandmother, Grannie. She was one of the most loving women I have ever met. She was the matriarch of the Webbs. You went to my grandma Lottie Mae for a popsicle. You went to great-grandma Grannie for a hug and stewed potatoes and cornbread. This is still my favorite meal to this day.
At a time when I was right in the middle of the Jim Crowe South, my first best friend in grammar school, Alvin, was African American. The best teacher I ever had, Miss Love, was African American. I used to tell my parents, “I love Miss Love.” Unlike many of the other teachers I had, she actually cared about us as students. She cared about us as human beings. She was a big influence in my life. Those meaningful relationships and what I learned from what they had to experience made an incredible impact on my life.
I think back on the significance of the little neighborhood gang of boys I played with around first grade. We called ourselves the Second Avenue Raiders; we’d sneak out at night and go on adventures, play a lot of baseball, and just generally run around the neighborhood like we owned the place. I felt a level of comfort and confidence with those guys that I never felt at school. I convinced those relationships were significant for young James who was the smallest and youngest in his grade, struggling to care at school.
When I think back to my youth in Laurel at these and other relationships, I can see the building blocks of the person I eventually became. I don’t remember learning that much in school, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn in my youth.
I didn’t receive a monetary inheritance from my relatives and friends. However, I absolutely got some of their traits. Traits such as my grandparents’ entrepreneurial spirit and my mom’s instinct to take care of people. I got my dad’s work ethic and resilience in the face of failure. Sense of community I inherited from church. I learned bravery in the face of stupidity from Alvin, Miss Love, and all the African American families. The families who crossed the segregation lines. I learned the wrong way to be successful from rich parents. The ones that would rather start a school of their own than let their kids go to school with Alvin or learn from Miss Love. I learned that tragedy can influence you without defining you. Additionally, life doesn’t double back to help you out.
Think back to all those meaningful relationships you’ve had throughout your life. Those who have come and gone, and those who you’ve held onto tightly. It’s amazing to consider the significance people play in our lives. The power they have to mold who you become and what you accomplish. Ultimately, in the end, it’s those relationships and the memories you hold that will more than any success you acquire.