The family you choose

Just after Christmas, I stumbled across this nifty column published in the American Express Open Forum, a site I was oblivious to despite being a cardholder.

In the spirit of the holiday season, the author looks to the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” for real-life lessons for entrepreneurs. Though I’m more of what billionaire basketball team owner Mark Cuban calls a “WANTrepreneur” on the entertaining ABC program “Shark Tank,” I was charmed by the column’s headline. I’m glad I kept reading.

Among the valuable lessons are “focus on local” and “don’t rely on the banks.” But the lesson with the most value — not just for business, but personally — is the last one. The author titles it, “remember the ultimate bailout,” but the real impact of the lesson is contained in its first sentence:

“No man is a failure if he has friends.”

That statement is more than just the Frank Capra masterwork’s cheery denouement, however. To me it’s a mantra, for I’ve somehow been blessed with some remarkable friends. I recently alluded to one of them in this blog, but my other friends have been helpful in their own way, from picking up a humbling proportion of our bar tabs, to sharing the abundant good times to standing by me when things have gotten rough.

The cliche holds that friends are the family you choose. No man has chosen more wisely.

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