Will Smith on true friends.
I came across a great quote from Will Smith, the Hollywood actor/film star today. It went:
“If you were absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.”
If this is a real quote from Will Smith and not just a misattribution, my estimation of him has been increased by this pithy and oh-so-true remark. Everyone who has ever sought to achieve anything of real creative worth, must note this phenomenon, at some time or other. Especially when they actually create something worthy. All those people who were invisible, when you needed them, suddenly pop out, when you don’t. It is quite perturbing. There is a whole sub-species of Humanity who think that their fellow Man are so stupid, that they can be scarce, when their compatriots are struggling towards success, but suddenly be ever present when success comes at last. It is a particularly ugly behaviour.
Even a casual glance at the early lives of many geniuses, before they reached renown, reveals much private struggle, in which they strove to create their works, not infrequently against the indifference or unhelpfulness of those around them. I wonder at how those who stood by and did nothing to help, responded when the genius finally succeeded? Did they expect to be able to “cash in”, on the situation?
Will Smith’s wise words are worth bearing in mind, for anyone who is working towards a personal success of any significance. Observe the people around you. Note who is helpful and who is not. Note who is there for you, and who is never so. Never forget those who help you along the way – nor those who hinder you. When, finally, your success is yours. Note the responses of the very same people, good and bad: do they suddenly change? Do the once unhelpful or hindering types suddenly become profusely interested in you? If so, simply exercise your memory, and see them as they truly are.
Indeed, this is a particularly important matter for anyone who becomes rich, famous or both to bear in mind. Only those people who were supportive in your darker times, are worth your consideration when you begin to flourish. Those who were more noted by their absence, than their presence, should never be trusted, or given a moment’s attention – after all, they didn’t do so for you when you actually needed their help.
Fame and wealth make this situation particularly acute for their bearer. Many people are attracted to the famous or the wealthy, seeking favours of some kind from them, or even just the reflected glory of close association. Those people are easily sorted by the Will Smith Rule – above. The ones who were there, when you were “no-one”, are worth your attention, when you become “someone”. The converse is true for the others. When people you haven’t seen for twenty years suddenly start treating you as their best friend, it is time to start closing doors in faces...preferably ON faces.
From Will Smith’s remark, I read that he most likely experienced this too. It seems, however, that he saw through the sudden hangers-on. Good for him.
I would be interested in any anecdotes, from people’s lives, on any similar experience. Did personal success bring you a sudden avalanche of friends you never knew you had, sourced from among those who had become very practised at ignoring you, during your time of struggle? Stories below, please.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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