Recently, I had every intention of checking on a friend who is having a tough time and the week went by without my making the phone call. Shame on me. In balancing work, family and community involvement, making time to nurture friendships requires that extra effort. Former President George W. Bush made me realize how important it is to fit friendship into work life balance.
As a child, when Bush’s younger sister died of leukemia at age 6, he saw how his parents friends gave them solace. He, too, turned to his friends at that time, spending his days riding bicycles and playing baseball with them. Nearly 60 years later, he still considers those playmates among his closest friends.
In in interview with Parade Magazine, Bush tell how close friends later became his relief from stress during trying times as President. He says he depended on them to give him perspective. When I picture Bush, I see his family and his political life. When asked how he managed to find time to maintain friendships, he answered: "There's no magic formula -- you just stay in touch. I've always made it a priority to call, write or see friends when I have time."
For him, the impact of friendships has been huge. Bush, who has a new memoir called Decision Points, says: "Quite often, a conversation with a friend has changed the course of my life." Have you felt that way, too? I have. Friends often offer perspective in a career decisions or relationships that you just can't get from family.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Sue Shellenbarger goes beyond Facebook to discuss the benefits of deeper friendships. Those benefits include better health. And, as Shellenbarger points out, some friendships change and it's healthier to end them.
But if George and Laura Bush made time for friendships, all of us can. I love this quote from George about the friends who shared his final ride after Obama's inauguration: "They were friends before politics. They were friends during politics. They'll be my friends after politics."
Do you find it increasingly difficult to maintain friendships with more work pressure today? Do you thinksocial networking makes it easier to maintain deep friendships or does it make it too easy to skip the person to person interaction that is important in keeping a friend?
George W. Bush with parents George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush in 1955. [Photo by Polaris]