Tag Archives: friendship

Enduring Legacy of Tony Leow Sun Hock

Living a Life that Mattered

Sometime last year I was requested to write an article on Tony Leow Sun Hock by the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur. They had wanted to include a tribute to Tony Leow in the souvenir programme that was being published to mark the 40th anniversary of the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I readily obliged the club leaders. I used that article later as a blog posting under the heading: Remembering an Unusual Friend – Tony Leow Sun Hock.

In mid-February 2017, Tony Leow who had gallantly fought to stay alive, after being in a coma for nine and half years, finally relented and passed gracefully into eternity.  He was 72 years old. While in this comatose state, Tony was provided with excellent round the clock care by two nurses/care givers who took turns to look into his needs. His wife, Anna and their four sons were also there for him. Tony’s extended family of brothers and sisters also visited him from time to time as did his fellow Kiwanians.

Tony was that incredible shining light, dynamo and trailblazer. He lived his life, writ large and bold, on his own terms.

A Light Has Been Extinguished

The family decided that three individuals should be invited to give eulogies at his funeral service in the church. His eldest son Kevin, the eldest granddaughter Felecia and yours truly were the ones who delivered eulogies. This is what I shared inter alia during the eulogy.

As a friend and a former classmate of his, I can say quite confidently, that a light has been extinguished and we are all that much poorer for it. Tony was that incredible shining light, dynamo and trailblazer. He lived his life, writ large and bold, on his own terms. He was also never afraid to take on challenges. Likewise, he also sought opportunities to grow his business.

In that exhausting process, Tony achieved a large measure of success. Lesser individuals would have thrown in the towel when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles but not Tony. He literally thrived on overcoming challenges. This was truly commendable because Tony ‘graduated’  from the well known and widely respected ‘University of Hard Knocks’ summa cum laude.

Snapshots of That Individual

I would now like to share with you some interesting snippets of information that throw greater light on this strong minded and driven individual. Hopefully, these snapshots will give you a better idea of the many faceted personality of Tony Leow.

Champion Motor Rallying Enthusiast

Tony was an outstanding motor rallying exponent. He was one-half of a winning combination that roared to repeated victories in numerous motor rally competitions in Malaysia. Motor rallying in Malaysia is especially thrilling, exciting and dangerous to the uninitiated because of the challenges facing the newcomer. Drivers have to cope with slimy, thick mud, narrow rubber and oil palm estate dirt tracks, pock marked, abandoned tin mines trails and often a ‘ missing wooden bridge or two ‘ as well as night driving and the occasional heavy showers are all par for the course!

The driver of the Team Nissan rally car was someone with the surname Lim and Tony was the ace, daredevil navigator. Why do I say daredevil? You have to have supreme confidence in the driver to sit calmly in a racing car with your crash helmet on and in often hot and humid conditions here in the tropics.

In addition, the rally car is spartanly equipped with uncomfortable seats and the driver and navigator are secured in place by full harness seat belts. From the inside, one can see that there is a steel roll cage for safety reasons. The team are subject to being bounced about repeatedly because of the rough and uneven terrain and screeching round corners, ever so often in a thunderous, continuous roar. Under these horrible conditions, Tony still somehow managed to do a bloody good job navigating the route. Certainly, not my cup of tea!

Bravery Was His Middle Name

In his teens and during a picnic at a waterfall location or a mining pool (not sure which) somewhere in the Klang Valley, Tony without hesitation or a care for his own safety jumped into the water to save a friend. The friend and classmate, unfortunately, could not swim and he was clearly in distress and in the process of drowning. Failure to act decisively and promptly would have surely resulted in the loss of a young life.

How do I know about this incident? It was simply because that good friend who was saved told me about this on at least two different occasions. That friend who later became a doctor remains to this day, ever grateful for that courageous act. Tony’s instinctive and spontaneous action that day was an act of true heroism.

Committed Community Service Club Builder

I take pleasure in recalling that I had introduced Tony to the Kiwanis community service movement. Tony was a truly committed builder of Kiwanis Clubs in Malaysia. Do remember that this was a period when we had only a mother club i.e. Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur with a membership of about twenty-five individuals. Of these, only a handful was truly active and totally committed to growing the membership as well as in building new clubs.

Together with three other stalwarts, namely the late Lim Eng Seng, Michael Wong Sek Peng and yours truly, these Kiwanians are credited with building eight clubs during a two-year building spree. It is important to keep in mind that Kiwanis International did not reimburse these individuals for their effort, their time or even for the expenses incurred.

Tony is credited with introducing the concept of a motor treasure hunt as a fund raising vehicle for the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur.

The club building exercise was undertaken and driven by a sense of mission, a deep commitment and a real desire to build more clubs. It was also to spread the joys and satisfaction of altruistic community service. In that high pursuit, the bonds of fellowship were also strengthened. All the expenses thus incurred in club building came out of the pockets of these individuals! Today there are more than 50 clubs in Malaysia. Tony went on to become president of the Kuala Lumpur club and later Area Coordinator for Kiwanis Malaysia.

Talented Organiser of Motor Treasure Hunts

Tony is credited with introducing the concept of a motor treasure hunt as a fund raising vehicle for the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur. He was a very detailed and precise in planning the treasure hunt route. He was equally adept at posing tricky and puzzling questions for the competitors.

Tony would go over the treasure hunt route twice… just think for a moment the man hours involved. That was no sweat for Tony – he always did it his way and his way was superb. Today, I am pleased to inform you that KCKL still organises yearly treasure hunts… more than 30 thus far. What a tribute to a far-sighted man.

Recollections from Family and Friends

Eddie Low Kah Hin

Classmate, Childhood Friend and Loss Adjuster from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

I recall with pleasure our carefree childhood days where we spent some afternoons swimming in disused mining pools in Kuchai Lama, off Old Klang Road, Kuala Lumpur. This is where we learnt to swim. On hindsight much later, we realised it was a very dangerous place to learn that skill!

When we finished high school, both of us entered the job market in related fields. Tony landed a job with Wall’s Ice Cream and I joined Cold Storage Supermarkets.

He next got a job with Mobil Oil as a sales rep and I joined Esso. Even at that stage, Tony was very enterprising and very determined to be an entrepreneur.

His first car was a cute, mini Fiat 600. Later, he bought a VW Beetle. He drove over to my place to show me the car. In early 2002, when I returned to Malaysia for a visit, he came to meet me in an impressive Mercedes Benz 450 S Class.

I shall forever cherish our friendship.

Ngau Wing Fatt –

Chartered Certified Accountant, Kiwanian and Treasure Hunt Collaborator from Kuala Lumpur

I volunteered to drive for Tony when he had to plan the routes for the 2nd and 3 rd treasure hunts. The distance for the third treasure hunt was over 300 km! These driving missions were usually carried out on Sundays and while I drove, Tony was busy planning the route and coming up with the tricky and sometimes difficult questions.

We got along well and I must confess that I learnt a lot about competent and safe driving from Tony.

From my association with Tony, I discovered that he was witty, hilarious, knowledgeable and a street smart guy. He was sharp-sighted in spotting funny sign boards, structures and buildings. He would coin/pose questions that tested your wits and knowledge. He once famously referred to road bumps to slow traffic as ‘sleeping policemen’.

Tony was a great leader who provided sound advice, proper direction and unselfish support to the Kiwanis Clubs of Malaysia.

Lau Se Hian –

Chartered Management Accountant, Kiwanian and Fellow Bon Vivant originally from Muar, Johore

I remember Tony with gratitude for his support in organising the yearly treasure hunts. This activity was a major source of financing for the Kiwanis Down’s Syndrome Centre in Petaling Jaya, especially in the early days.

Tony was a great leader who provided sound advice, proper direction and unselfish support to the Kiwanis Clubs of Malaysia. Kiwanians in Malaysia owe him a debt of gratitude.

Kevin Leow

Eldest of four sons and the one who gave the eulogy at the funeral service

It was a moving eulogy. Kevin shared the following information:

Most of you present may not know nor can you imagine that it was an easy task being a child of Tony Leow. Dad set very high standards for his children in many areas. ( It was Tony’s way of showing tough love ) He had accomplished many wonderful feats and had achieved great things in his life.

Dad was also a serial entrepreneur. Probably his greatest business achievement was in the public listing of his company, Hirotako Holdings Berhad.  Hirotako manufactures seat belts, air bags and many other car related products.

Dad was also a three-time Malaysian Motor Rallying Champion.

Richard Leow

Brother, Entrepreneur and Past President of the Kiwanis Downs’ Syndrome Foundation in Malaysia.

We come from a large family. Our parents had 11 of us… eight sons and three daughters. Tony was the sixth in the family and I was the ninth. Tony was three years my senior. Our dad was a wage earner. He was very strict, a man of principles and with a no-nonsense attitude. But he was also extremely kind and with a generous disposition. Our dad’s golden rule was: Go and help the poor. They need us. And God will bless us.’

Tony took dad’s advice to the hilt. We got along very well………not just as brothers but also as friends and colleagues in business and in community service. He was one of my partners in advertising and also in a trading company. Tony also approached me to be one of his partners in a decorative glass manufacturing company. He was also the one who introduced me to the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur.

We had our occasional differences and there was once when Tony came to our factory for a discussion on a certain matter. The discussion grew heated, and in the process, Tony lost his cool! To his ever lasting credit, Tony was big enough to telephone me later to apologise and he then invited me to join him for lunch. This is our Leow trait ……..having a short fuse!

Tony surprised me in August 2007 while he was in and out of the Damansara Specialist Hospital by saying: I would like to be baptised and be a Catholic and I want you to be my godfather!  I was honoured. His wife, Anna, is a born Catholic and their four sons are also Catholic. I have great admiration for my brother.

Footprints on the Sands of Time

There is a very well known saying that is most appropriate in this instance and I would like to share it.

Lives of outstanding men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime
   And departing, leave behind us,
  Footprints on the sands of time

Rally on in the heavens above Tony and many thanks for those wonderful memories.

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Remembering an Exceptional Friend: Unforgetable Lim Eng Seng

Someone wise once remarked:

‘ Ask not what a man stands for. Watch instead for what he does in real life ‘.

That quote aptly sums up the life, times and vast contributions of a dear friend named Lim Eng Seng, better known to all his colleagues and good friends as ES.

In late July 2015, it will be a decade since he left us quite unexpectedly.

SHEER DETERMINATION and INGENUITY

ES was an unusual human being in many ways. He was first and foremost, a gentle, kind and generous person by nature.

Despite coming from a humble and socio-economically disadvantaged background, he managed by sheer grit, determination and ingenuity to overcome many obstacles and become a chartered management accountant.

There are, of course, a number of individuals like that. But in the case of ES, it came quite naturally to him. It was in his DNA! The great Shakespeare would add that: “ He had the milk of human kindness in him ‘. And that was an understatement!

Despite coming from a humble and socio-economically disadvantaged background, he managed by sheer grit, determination and ingenuity to overcome many obstacles and become a chartered management accountant.

That was a huge achievement when I tell you that at that time in Malaysia there were no colleges offering face to face tuition for the tough CIMA professional accounting examinations. ES together with a few friends in a similar predicament overcame that handicap by buying US text books printed in India ( student editions ) at a low cost and used these books to prepare for a British professional accounting examination. They did not buy a book each but rather shared the use of the books that they bought. Now that was a classic example of how to think out of the box!

To his great credit, he passed the final examinations through this disciplined, tough mature study route.

CHARTED HIS CAREER PROGRESSION

Career wise, he began his professional life with a Big 4 firm, Coopers & Lybrand.

A few years later, after having gained some relevant and valuable experience, he took on the challenging role of financial controller with an established commercial organisation.

He then made a career defining move by starting his own public practice in the early eighties. His dear wife, Katherine also a professional accountant ( ACCA ) joined him later on and took on the leadership role in the taxation division of his growing public practice.

They have three lovely and successful children, Hui Rong, Hui Wei and Deyao. All three who incidentally share the values and principles of their parents, completed their higher education in Australian universities and two of them are also professional accountants!

The early years spent developing and growing his public practice were tough and challenging but ES was no quitter. With determination, the goodwill and support of clients and professionalism he persevered and built up his practice. Today the ES Lim group of companies are a thriving reality.

His staff saw him as much more than an employer. He was also their friend, counsellor and mentor. He introduced the Monday Morning Action session at his public practice. This was a good move to give the staff a chance to share and widen their professional knowledge as well as improve their social and communication skills.

TRUE BLUE COMMUNITY SERVICE ENTHUSIAST

As far as Kiwanis International is concerned, ES was a true blue community service enthusiast. He joined the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur in the early eighties. His leadership potential was quickly noted. In addition, he had developed excellent human relations skills. He was, in many ways, a self made man and a person who saw himself as not just an accountant but more importantly as a professional.

ES set the gold standard as far as presidencies go by a most distinguished tenure as president of the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur. Not many will remember that the famous Kiwanis Motoring Treasure Hunt, now in its thirty first year, was actually initiated when ES was president of the club. Many other clubs, associations, societies and even companies have jumped on the bandwagon and have begun organising Motoring Treasure Hunts. The Kiwanis Motoring Treasure Hunt however remains the undisputed, pre eminent one!

The principal architect of the early growth of Kiwanis Clubs in Malaysia was ES. Together with four or five diehard Kiwanians, they were responsible for the formation of about ten clubs in the country. One has to remember that all these club building activities were carried out essentially on their own and by utilising their own resources. There was no financial support from Kiwanis International… just moral support.

By his endearing charisma, ES was able to inspire his team to build these clubs in Malaysia. ES then went on to become the Area Co-ordinator for Kiwanis Malaysia during the period before Kiwanis Malaysia was granted District status.

INDIVIDUAL OF UNCOMMON INTEGRITY

ES continued in this vein in the professional sphere. He generously gave much of his time, assistance, ideas and expertise for more than twenty years to CIMA Malaysia Division and later on to CIMA Council in London. During this long period, he took on the roles of treasurer, secretary and vice president at different times before finally being elected president of CIMA Malaysia Division.

He continued to contribute with great dedication when he was elected CIMA’s Council Member for S.E. Asia. For over seven years, he faithfully travelled to London three or four times a year to attend and participate actively in the Council Meetings. No CIMA member served the Institute with greater passion, commitment and sincerity than ES. To many in the UK and in Malaysia, he was CIMA Malaysia!

UNCANNY ABILITY TO ANALYSE ISSUES

He was an extremely kind and generous professional who had the uncanny ability to see and analyse issues with great clarity. He was also straightforward in the way he went about conveying his views, sometimes to the surprise and dismay of others, if he felt strongly enough about a particular issue or policy matter.

ES did not choose to play safe or to play to the gallery and was prepared to speak up if he was convinced about an issue of concern. He made it a point to study an issue of importance thoroughly and sought counsel from like minded colleagues on the approach he was advocating.

I still have the book he presented to me: True ProfessionalismThe Courage to Care About your People, Your Clients and Your Career by David H Maister, a former professor at the Harvard Business School. He confided to me that this book was his ready reference guide especially when he faced professional issues. I too have found the book a good and useful read.

ES was always, as far as I can remember, cool, calm and composed even in a tense situation and when problems surfaced.

ES also prepared meticulously for each divisional council meeting and more so for each council meeting in the United Kingdom. Such was his commitment to holding high office. He used to remark that with high honour came high responsibility. It was clear to all that here was an individual who took his responsibilities very seriously.

It was certainly fitting therefore that a month before his untimely demise, CIMA chose to honour him for his distinguished service with its prestigious Silver Medal.

GOOD LISTENER and CONSUMMATE COUNSELOR

ES was always, as far as I can remember, cool, calm and composed even in a tense situation and when problems surfaced. He had developed over the years, a good listening ear and a sympathetic attitude that coloured his approach to the problem or issue. Many of his staff, colleagues, associates and even friends often turned to him when they needed to discuss some problem or issue.

I also know of a few people, fellow accountants, company secretaries and even contractors and housing developers who he had generously helped career wise or professionally.

On my part, I am pleased to readily acknowledge that he played a significant role in my career success when I joined CIMA Malaysia as its divisional director in April 1990. In addition, he provided unstinting support and advice along the way and he did so in a quiet, dignified and helpful manner.

And it did not end there.

ES also played a part in my entry to ACCA initially as its special adviser for Malaysia and later as its special adviser for ASEAN. Together with the others whom he helped so generously, we all remain eternally grateful to ES for his wise counsel, support and assistance.

WONDERFUL LEGACY TO CHERISH

A giant among professionals and community service enthusiasts who we were all privileged to call a dear friend has certainly left a huge void which will be hard to fill. However, it is wonderful to know that even after ten years his considerable impact on all of us remains undiminished. Yes, let me repeat that, undiminished!

Family members, staff, associates and friends can recall at will certain episodes, stories and incidents with amazing clarity. His many contributions and legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of those with whom he came in contact with. The family, now led by his wife Katherine, will ensure that the grandchildren who did not get to know their grandfather, will certainly get to know him vicariously through poignant photographs, stories, values and principles that he had embraced wholeheartedly during his lifetime.

Such a man touched so many lives in many wonderful and different ways. There is no denying that ES has certainly left his larger than life footprints firmly embedded in the sands of time.

Year of Blessings and Many Reunions : La Salle Brickfields Secondary School Alumni Lead the Way

As 2014 gradually drew to a close, I was struck by the thought that many of us have had blessings a plenty during the year. Sometimes we take these blessings for granted. Oftentimes, we seem unaware that these are truly blessings of a higher order.

This is because in the rush and hurry of modern day, stressed filled living we seem to be constantly on the move attending to one thing or another. Our jobs, our families and our share of challenges in life can sometimes be quite overpowering.

Appreciate Blessings of a Higher Order

How often, for instance, have you or I stopped for a while to enjoy a glorious sunset or even to smell the roses? How often have we paused for a while to go for a long walk along the beach or to go hiking along a jungle trail?

When was the last time we could enjoy and breathe in good, clean air in our cities without having to put up with the dastardly, unhealthy perennial haze that seems to blanket our skies? This is a real tragedy of modern living.

Choice of Focus

Some may choose to focus on the series of major tragedies that have befallen our country during the year, starting first with the incredible disappearance of MH 370 with the loss of almost three hundred lives. Months later came the unexpected shooting down of MH 17 over Ukraine with the loss of hundreds of lives. Most recently, we lost yet another aircraft, this time an Air Asia plane over the Java Sea with the loss of nearly one hundred and sixty lives. To make matters worse, we are currently experiencing one of the worst floods to hit the country in decades.

As a nation, we have to remain strong and believe that these too will pass! We have to learn to take the good with the bad because no one can promise us great times all the time. With life, such as we know it, we have to accept a mixed bag of happenings and events. As they say things happen for a reason and the challenge is to find that reason and to learn and grow from that experience.

Immense Value of True Friendship

On a different level, the alumni of La Salle Brickfields (LSB) Secondary School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have demonstrated in a clear and convincing manner the immense value of true friendship and enjoyable, memorable reunions. Over the last twenty years or so, I have been invited to and have attended about five La Salle Brickfields reunion gatherings, usually over dinner.

Well Organised and Enjoyable Event

Last year ( 2014 ) was the exception… no doubts about that matter. I had been invited to four reunion dinner gatherings in 2014. It started off spectacularly in April or May this year by the LSB Class of 1976. The reunion was held in a spacious hall in a country club in KL. More than 100 former students, including a few who brought their wives and children along as well as about eighteen former teachers attended this classy and well organised event.

Year Long Breakfast Programme

A month later, the LSB Class of 1975 organised a reunion meeting followed by dinner and they also invited two teachers to the event. This group of about twelve are successful professionals and business people and they felt the need to do something for their old school. The meeting was a productive one and within two months of that fateful reunion cum meeting, this small but determined LSB group had launched a year long breakfast programme for seventy two underprivileged schoolchildren who used to come to school daily without breakfast! This is a truly noble way of carrying out meaningful community service where it is most needed. It also shows the depth of commitment and loyalty by these individuals to their alma mater.

Good Fellowship and Laughter

Two months later, a group of about twenty former students, from the LSB Class of 1968 met for drinks and bites in the evening at a club in Kuala Lumpur. Once again, these individuals were all so glad to meet each other, some for the first time in forty plus years.

B C Forbes once remarked :-

The best way to make a true friend is to be one. Friendship implies loyalty, esteem, cordiality, sympathy, affection, readiness to aid, to help, to stick, to fight for, if need be……………. Radiate friendship and it will return sevenfold!

These groups of LSB alumni from the different years continue to radiate friendship, camaraderie and fellowship that one rarely sees these days. There must have been something unique and special about the ethos, traditions and practices of LSB that has made such an impact possible years later!

This group has since met on two further occasions. The seed that was planted has certainly grown and bloomed! Alumni from Singapore and Dubai have seen fit to attend these reunions in Kuala Lumpur.

Promises to Meet More Often

All these qualities of friendship that B C Forbes talked about were plainly evident when the reunions took place. The alumni seemed incredibly happy to re-connect with old classmates and even former teachers. Some offered profound thanks to the organisers of the meet for the effort they had invested to get the former classmates together. Others exchanged business cards and made solemn promises to meet more often. A few even followed this up by inviting teachers for lunches and dinners. Such was the reaction and joy that these alumni exhibited. It was true, unabashed human emotion at its best. It certainly helped that a wave of forgotten memories were being brought back to life, even though some of the alumni are now grandfathers in their own right!

A Canadian Alumni Re-Connects

On 28 December, yet another successful reunion took place, this time with LSB Class of 1969 alumni. The excuse and motivation was the return home to Malaysia for a brief holiday by a classmate who now resides in Toronto, Canada. He had contacted one of his classmates and requested to meet with his classmates and teachers. This friend went out of his way to contact as many classmates and teachers as was possible. In the end, it was a successful reunion with over twenty five classmates turning up as well as three teachers.

Among those who turned up was a doctor who now practises in Johor and a classmate from Singapore. Another who turned up is a chartered secretary who has since reinvented himself professionally and is now a ‘ head hunter ‘. This person also brought along his only son to meet his fellow classmates and teachers. This guy as well as many of the others who turned up expressed great joy at meeting so many classmates, some for the first time after forty five years!

The noise and occasional laughter that emanated from the lively and animated conversations was a clear indication that the event was a great success. There was also a spontaneous singing of the old school song with much gusto and enthusiasm. The members of the private club where the event was held could only look on with amazement and a touch of envy I guess, to see a bunch of sixty year old gentlemen relive their youth!

All Kinds of Friends: the Ability to Discern

Many famous people are always seen to be surrounded by numerous friends. A number of well known, charismatic personalities, regardless of whether they are politicians, professionals, academics or business leaders, have a regular group of individuals who hover around them. They are seen to have many friends who wish to be in their company and orbit!

The art and skill of making friends and keeping that friendship going from strength to strength is, however, a function of sincerity, integrity and deep seated mutual admiration. Too often we find that a few individuals mistakenly regard some others as friends when in reality they are just mere acquaintances, or in other instances, associates.

Acquaintances

These are people we meet, probably incidentally, in the course of our working and social life. We probably know them just on a casual and informal basis and as such they do not qualify as friends. We also meet such people in our neighbourhood and in our social circles. They are what we call acquaintances…not friends. If and when an acquaintance becomes a friend, then that is a matter of choice and probably because the relationship has progressed from mere acquaintance to that of friend.

Associates

These are individuals that we meet in a business or professional context. The very nature of our working relationship requires that we interact with these individuals on a regular basis. It is our work and the issues and challenges that arise from time to time that require us to meet and interact with these people. They are best described as associates…not friends.

Here too, while they meet on a regular basis, there is no real need to regard these individuals as friends. However, when the two individuals seem to get along well, share the same interests and views on work related matters and genuinely like each other’s company, the stage is set to elevate the relationship from associate to a friend. This is sometimes the case and in that instance, you can consider it a gift.

Friends for a Reason

These individuals come into our lives for a specific reason. They inch and work their way into our lives because they have an ultimate objective. They are seeking something from you but at this stage of the so called friendship, you have no idea that this is the grand design. You are then drawn to the individual based on his / her approach to you and you do not suspect any ulterior motive.

The façade of friendship, however, crumbles when that person is unable to get what he / she wanted from you. You have continued to function and operate as a true professional. However, when the individual realises that you are not going to give him what he wants, he shows his true colours.

His was never a real friendship in the first instance. It was all an act to win favour with you for a hidden purpose. Once he is found out, he moves away. He pursued friendship with you for a hidden reason and not because you both shared mutual interests.

Friends for a Season

These friendships begin well enough and seem to flourish when you are both at the same level, job wise or career wise. However, jealousy creeps in and spoils the friendship when one party begins to get promoted or recognised. The other party sulks and is resentful.

This inability to appreciate a friend’s success is actually very common. Such friends will not send a congratulatory note to the friend nor will he telephone to wish him well. In fact, he will studiously avoid the subject and show his mean streak. On the other hand, such a friend will be the first to notice his misfortune if he is sacked or retrenched!

At other times, such friends will make unreasonable demands on the friendship. And if the other party declines to give in, then problems arise.

I know of a friend who, when he travels, chooses to stay in hotels. He feels that he can come and go as he pleases when he stays in a hotel.  This friend, as such, does not wish to trouble relatives or friends when he is on holiday.

However, he made a big mistake in acceding to his friend’s invitation to stay in his house rather than a hotel. The friend even insisted that he stay for a minimum of four weeks! Sometime during the second week of the stay, he noticed a change in the behaviour of his friend. Soon after, he was being deliberately ignored. He got the strong hints and decided to leave forthwith. He should have known better and heeded a well known piece of advice: “ If you stay with a friend, make sure it is for not more than three days. After that, like rotting fish, you will begin to smell! “  What may have  begun with good intentions however, resulted in that friendship coming to a premature end.

Friends for a Good Time

Many are aware of this phenomenon. This is quite often the case when you are in a generous and celebratory mood and quite prepared to pick up the tab repeatedly. In this scenario, there will be no shortage of so called friends because they will swarm around you like bees to honey. But when the situation changes for the worse and the regular partying, drinking and dinners stop happening because of financial reasons, these friends will move out with even greater speed than rats leaving a sinking ship. This inability to discern just who your real friends are can be a very costly mistake.

True Blue Friends

How do you tell if you have a true blue friend? It is, in fact, quite an easy task.

True blue friends are actually charter members of the ‘ Mutual Admiration Society (MAS). They share many common interests and values and their friendship is very evenly balanced.

Each party wishes to continue to strengthen and build the friendship over time. Each is genuinely pleased and happy for the other party to achieve success. Whilst they may share many common interests, they also have other interests that they pursue individually. Both parties admire each other for their talents, abilities and values.

Some Traits of True Blue Friends

These individuals always think and act in the friend’s best interest. They do so instinctively and readily because it is the right thing to do.

These individuals have a friendship built on a sound foundation. Each contributes to the friendship in equal measure and it is never a lopsided friendship where only one party makes the effort. In some cases, I know of people who claim to be friends but only make the barest minimum effort to strengthen the friendship.

A true blue friend is also one with whom you can confide your fears and frustrations. He is there to hear you out, discuss matters with you candidly and never betray your confidence. He is willing to serve as a sounding board for your ideas and proposals because you know that he will give you his feedback without fear or favour. Sometimes, all he need do is just be a sympathetic listener!

Another admirable quality of true blue friends is that they stay loyal not just in good times but also when the other person is facing problems…financial, business, professional or personal. It is in times such as these that a true blue friend shines because the other so called friends have deserted him in his hour of need.

A true blue friend never takes the friendship for granted. He works at it diligently. In your whole lifetime, if you have managed to acquire, cultivate and keep five true friends, you can consider yourself a lucky person. You have been truly blessed because the reality is true friends are worth their weight in gold.