The Loneliest Number in the World

“One is too small a number to achieve greatness – Dr. John C. Maxwell

No One Is Better Alone

Tennis player Novak Djokovic is on an impressive run this year. After winning Wimbledon on Sunday, he has won three out of the four major tennis competitions this year. If he wins the U.S Open that starts in August, he will achieve the elusive feat of winning a Calendar Grand Slam, described as winning all four major tournaments in a year,  which one other person has accomplished, Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969. But Djokovic can eclipse Laver’s glittering accomplishment by adding an Olympic Gold Medal at the upcoming Olympics.

On match day, tennis may seem like an individual sport but nothing could be further from the truth. They are as much a team sport as basketball or soccer. When I watch tennis, I am keen to observe where the respective player’s team is seated. Although they are in the stands with the fans, their handprint can be seen through the performance of the player on the court. Tennis, with no set time limit, is a game of skill, mental acumen, and endurance. And all these attributes that make players like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, or Roger Federer great do not come by individual prowess. A team effort is necessary. During one of his games, which lasted three hours and he won, Djokovic, who was struggling with neck pain, credited his coach and physiotherapist who worked tirelessly to get him in playing condition, proving that one is better alone.

Why Relationships Count

The same properties that go into making tennis players great are also necessary to enjoy long-term success in life. If a high-quality life is desired, then a solo effort will not suffice. An old African proverb reminds us, “If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” When you look around you, do you have a team that has helped you reach where you are? Can you pinpoint different ways they have contributed to the quality of life you have enjoyed

Life Skills

One of the best gifts we have been given is relationships. I believe this because: Relationships help us develop vital life skills like kindness, patience, compassion, vulnerability, love, self-confidence, empathy, gratitude, reciprocity, and forgiveness. Without these skills, functioning in life becomes difficult like a tennis player with poor form. Relationships shape us into better people. They are part of the school of life. Through relationships, I have learned to never take anyone for granted but care and consider others. They have taught me how forgiveness strengthens a relationship when it is given. I discovered how to listen compassionately, and to be grateful for the little things that someone else does because they are often the most memorable. I have grown in confidence as I have received much-needed support in the journey of life. Relationships have taught me that life is not about taking but giving as well. Without a give-and-take approach to life, I will live a socially bankrupt existence, and eventually have poor health.

Mental Health

Best friends Ruth Schwartz, Lorraine Pirello, and Edith Moscou were all born in June 1921, turned 100 last month. Their friendship has been key to sustaining their mental acuity at an age where many are in decline. They spend their time together exercising, playing board games, and reminiscing about old times. They prove the undisputed link between healthy relationships and mental health. When we ax healthy relationships from our lives and choose isolation our minds suffer the consequences. Friendship is precious. Like Ruth, Lorraine, and Edith cherish your good relationships. Invest in them consistently. Be a safe place and stick with them in tough times. 


Relationships help us endure, especially in turbulent seasons of life. Life gets hard. We can find ourselves in over our heads. Good relationships can sustain us in rough waters. With words of encouragement or simply just being there, you can greatly influence others to keep going when quitting seems the best option. Like a wounded animal that hides in isolation, it is normal to want to distance ourselves from others when life hurts. Sadly, this chosen path of least resistance digs us deeper into depression and mental distress. 

I believe the resilience and endurance needed to make it through choppy waters in life are found in inviting our friends into our lives. I compare this action to drawing the curtains back and allowing the sun’s light to brighten the room. Our relationships serve as a beacon of light offering hope and the will to keep going.

Final Thought: I cannot imagine life without relationships. How much harder would life be if we were each assigned our private island to live? Yes, it would be nice to have a private island, but if I have to give up my relationships, the benefits of the island do not outweigh the positive impact relationships have had on my life since I was born. No one outgrows the need for relationships. Cultivate strong relationships. They will serve you well throughout your life. 

Keep on keeping on.


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