HAVE YOU EVER SEEN the movie, Rudy? It's the true story of a young man
who has one all-time dream to play football for Notre
Dame. He has dreamed of it since he was a little kid. When Rudy
is a young adult, he is working in a mill with his best friend,
Pete. They've been best friends since childhood. In once scene,
it's Rudy's birthday, and Pete gives him a Notre Dame letterman
"This is fantastic," says Rudy,
"Pete, where did you find this?"
"I was in Gary and I saw it in this
surplus store," says Pete, "and I said, 'That's gotta
Rudy is obviously affected by having a
tangible representation of his dream. "This is unbelievable."
He puts the jacket on. "Pete, I don't know how I'm ever
going to thank you
How's it look?"
Pete looks him in the eye and says with
full conviction, "You were born to wear that jacket."
Rudy had always wanted to play for Notre
Dame, but he wasn't big and he wasn't fast. He didn't have much
athletic ability. He also had dyslexia (which he didn't know
yet), so his grades weren't good, and his family didn't have
the money to send him to college. So to all outward appearances,
he didn't have a chance of ever even attending Notre Dame, much
less playing on their football team.
Rudy looks at his jacket. Then he looks
at Pete and says, "You're the only one who ever took me
It is a moving scene and an excellent demonstration
of a bond between comrades.
When you take away everything insignificant,
the bond of deep friendship between two people is really what
makes life truly meaningful. When people think their life is
over, almost everyone has the same thought. It's not about money
or problems or who is right and who is wrong; it's not about
politics or philosophy. All is stripped away except the single
most important value, the one that made this trip worth the trouble.
Viktor Frankl wrote about his experience
one morning as he marched through the snow, starving, severely
abused, not knowing if or when he would ever see a normal life,
and then he thought of his wife. He didn't even know if she was
alive. He saw her in his mind's eye. He saw her smile at him
and he was transfixed. He wrote:
For the first time in my life I saw
the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed
as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth that love is the ultimate and the highest
goal to which man can aspire
I understood how a man who
has nothing left in this world may still know bliss, be it only
for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.
I've read many accounts of people in extreme
life-or-death circumstances, and always, when a person thinks
it's all over, the one thought they have in their mind is of
the person they are closest to, whether it is their spouse or
child or parent or best friend. The closest bonds we have are
the highest value we attain.
And you can create these close bonds. And
I mean create. You can take steps that allow it to develop,
or you can do things that impede its development.
You can't create the bond of comradeship
with just anyone. Some people are irrevocably incompatible. But
you can make a mere friendship deepen into a profound bond, and
you can do it with the following principles:
1. Work together for a purpose.
A truly meaningful bond will emanate out of a strong purpose.
The two of you will share a purpose, or one of you will have
a purpose the other supports and believes in. Comradeship goes
beyond friendship and purpose is the central reason it does.
2. Believe in your comrade. When
Stephen King was a laundry worker with a dream to be a writer,
he wrote several novels that were all rejected by publishers
and agents. All that work for nothing! He didn't even get personal
rejections. He got form letters. It was pretty disheartening.
As he started to work on his fourth novel,
demoralization set in. He'd been spending every spare cent sending
manuscripts to agents and publishers. There were bills to pay
and all this writing was obviously getting him nowhere. He was
spending his nights and weekends typing and typing and typing,
and for what?
So one night he threw away the manuscript
he was working on. But his wife was a true comrade. She believed
in him so the next day she pulled the manuscript from the trash
and said, "You shouldn't be quitting. Not when you're so
He went back to punching out fifteen hundred
words a day. Without much feeling of hope, he sent off the manuscript
when he finished, and this time, he struck gold. The manuscript
was Carrie. It sold five million copies and was made into
a hit movie.
Believe in your comrade.
3. Be loyal. The act of loyalty
intensifies the bond. Be clear what I'm saying here. I'm not
saying that when you have a very close bond, you will feel more
loyal, although you very well might. I'm saying the act of
loyalty itself makes you closer.
When I first began dating Klassy, who is
now my wife, a member of my family shunned her. I remained on
friendly terms with that family member, which was a demonstration
of disloyalty I will never repeat. It was wrong. If you are true
to someone, be true. Defend them in their absence. Stand by them
in times of trouble. Speak well of them behind their back. Act
in their best interests when nobody is looking or if everybody
is looking. This is loyalty, and it is a choice, an act of will,
and that's what makes it valuable.
4. Fulfill trust. You have the option
to commit your time or your resources or your effort. You can
decide to commit or not. And when you commit yourself, you then
have another option: whether or not to honor that commitment.
A truly meaningful bond can develop when you consistently choose
to commit yourself and when you consistently choose to fulfill
your comrade's trust in moments of temptation. You will become
a better person for the discipline to do it, and your bond will
grow stronger. Trust is powerful, but it can easily be destroyed.
Protect that trust with all your might.
5. Speak the truth. In the introduction
to Russell Gough's Character is Destiny, he writes, "For
Aristotle, the truest friendship is far more than mere companionship,
mutual hobbies, and a common network of acquaintances. Friends
in the highest sense of the term are those who make a conscientious
effort to take ethics and personal character seriously and inspire
each other to be better in thought, in action, in life."
Obviously, your comrade cannot know
you if you haven't been honest. An important part of the
satisfying closeness you feel is your feeling that you are known,
and if you're hiding something, you know you aren't completely
known by your comrade, and that will prevent you from feeling
6. Happily make sacrifices for your
comrade. Before Earnest Shackleton made his legendary British
expedition on the Endurance,
he tried and failed to be the first to reach the South Pole.
On that earlier trek, one of his crew was Frank Wild, who became
Shackleton's indispensable second-in-command on the Endurance.
On this earlier journey, the four-man crew
made it to within two hundred miles of the Pole, but had to turn
back. As it was, they barely made it back alive. The trip back
was horrendous. They were pushed almost beyond human limits.
At one point, Frank Wild was suffering from dysentery and their
food supplies were dangerously low. Wild wrote this in his journal:
"Shackleton privately forced upon me his own breakfast biscuit,
and would have given me another tonight had I allowed him. I
do not suppose that anyone else in the world can thoroughly realize
how much generosity and sympathy was shown by this: I do, and
by God I shall never forget it. Thousands of pounds would not
have bought that one biscuit."
One of the most significant acts of friendship
is sacrifice willing sacrifice, the kind where
you happily give up something. Oddly enough, this act gives a
sense of meaning to life that nothing else does.
7. The fewer you have, the more powerful
the bond. To really develop an extraordinary uniting force
with someone, you will spend lots of time with the person. For
you to get to know each other, you cannot simply fax your resume.
It takes time. And if you are simultaneously trying to nurture
four other friendships, you cannot bond as deeply with them.
There isn't enough time in the day.
Comradeship is different from acquaintanceship.
It goes further than merely entertaining each other. Comradeship
is manifested in action, not just in talk. It is teaming up with
someone, not just hanging out with them. It takes time, and the
more comrades you have, the less depth you will have with any
one of them.
A recent study at the University of Michigan's
Institute for Social Research demonstrates this principle. They
found that women with a smaller number of friends were more content
with their lives than those with a larger group of friends. Of
course. The more friends you have, the more superficial
those friendships are by necessity. It's a limitation of time.
If you would like a more profound bond,
concentrate on a very few or just one, and forge it into something
THESE ARE THE SEVEN principles of comradeship.
If you have a true comrade, you really have something. It will
give your life a profound strength and love and meaningfulness
and contentment that you just can't get from any other source.
To create a powerful bond with someone:
1. Work together for a purpose.
2. Believe in your comrade.
3. Be loyal.
4. Fulfill their trust.
5. Speak the truth.
6. Happily make sacrifices for your comrade.
7. Cultivate very few comrades, or only one.