How Acts Of Friendship Forge And Sustain Greatness?

What sustains you? What is filling you with energy and joy? What is driving you?

I recently came across a gem from Digby Scott, who encapsulates a profound question within a simple model.

What sustains you? What is filling you with energy and joy? What is driving you?

As this year comes to a close for many of us, it is a time for celebration. Ancestors, up to our parents, passed us down this practice and we will teach it to the next generations.

We usually gather in the same place to connect with people like our family and friends. And what’s the purpose? It’s simple; we love sharing these moments. 

Seeing kids unwrap presents with an uncontrollable excitement leaves us in awe. Catching our sleepy grandpa napping on the sofa, snoring like a freight train, makes us smile. Hugging our mother stops time and comforts us.

Even if we regret eating more than we should have (and wondering how to lose these extra kilos), these moments and their memories sustain us. 

Purpose, practices, places, and people. They are the source of our sustainability.

The Gallup organization polled more than 130,000 people from more than 130 nations and identified the factor beyond earning money that had the strongest impact on how individuals perceive any day. The study found that people enjoyed their day the most when they “learned something” [1].

The purpose is to be better today than we were yesterday. 

The practices are plenty, like listening to a podcast, reading a book, watching a documentary.

The places matter too. We could learn at school, at work, in a library, or even stargazing at night.

And finally, we learn from people. From parents, teachers, colleagues, and the list goes on.

Learning encompasses the four components of the sustainability circle; that’s why it is so powerful and brightens our day.

Now, what sustains you? Is “learning something” a good one? Are there others that would tie together the 4Ps: purpose, practices, places, and people? 

So, to end this year with a bang, let’s make ourselves a gift. To find out what sustains us. What will give us strength and bliss for the years to come.  

Inspiration of the month

In our quest for sustainability, let me offer one more suggestion: friendship.

And what better way to illustrate it with the one that J.R.R Tolkien shared with C.S. Lewis. The former is the famous author of the Lord of the Rings, while the latter is renowned for the Chronicles of Narnia series. 

Scholars agree that none would have achieved their full potential and current fame if they had not met [2]. As they wrote their novels, they served as each other’s first readers, giving feedback and encouragement.

Tolkien probably would not have published the Lord of the Rings if it wasn’t for the constant support from Lewis. He said it himself: “The unpayable debt that I owe to him was not influence but sheer encouragement. […] He was for long my only audience.

Similarly, Tolkien forever influenced Lewis’ work[3]. They both nourished and elevated one another. 

Sharing the same purpose to write stories they most wanted to read but no one had written, they regularly met at “The Eagle and Child”, a well-known pub at Oxford’s Campus. It became their routine to exchange and progress their books.

Again, purpose, practices, places, and people. Friendships sustain us.

Challenge of the month

So, for this month’s challenge, let’s acknowledge a friend, telling them how you appreciate the bond you share.

Even if they know it, verbalize it. It goes a long way to show how grateful we are to count them in our life. 

Here are three tips to help you with this challenge.

First, be sincere. Don’t overdo it. We need to put words on what it means to us to have them as a friend. 

Second, be unashamed. They might tease us, almost as a defense mechanism, but we should not go back on our words. Otherwise, they would lose their power. 

Third, be specific. We can struggle to find the right tone or articulate our thoughts clearly when we are too generic. Instead, we can recall an example of how their friendship touched us. 

If this seems too awkward, we can still write down our thoughts on a card. 

This is the last newsletter of 2021. I wish you a fantastic New Year celebration and once more, thank you for reading these lines. 

With gratitude,


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[1]- Diener E., 2008, “Well-Being of Planet Earth”, 4th European Conference on Positive Psychology

[2]- Gilsdorf E., 2006, “J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: A Literary Friendship and Rivalry”, Literary Traveler

[3]- Metaxas E., 2015, “Miracles: What They Are, How They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life”, Plume

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Lison Mage

I help clever individuals and teams conquer overthinking and perform at their full potential. Together, we can go from a place of uncertainty and being paralyzed by doubt to gaining clarity on your current situation, where you want to go, and how to get you there!


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