As we continue to look at the concept of social capital, the importance of relationships gets more clearly into view. We know that the more relationships in our life, the greater advantages we reap from these connections. We also know that these relationships benefit both parties immensely.
These realities have caused me to think about those important relationships we hold, but more, the long term relationships in our lives. Now folks who know me, know that I live on "Condeluci Hill" just across the street from the home I was born in. I am surrounded by my family and still have dear friends from first grade. My wife and I met in high school, and her family is larger and more intense than my own. I have lived in my community for some 68 years.
In thinking about this I have recently developed a social capital analysis strategy I call the "social capital timeline." Quite simply it is a listing of relationships in your life in a chronological order. That is, starting with your longest held relationships and moving forward in time, you list the people you are friends with, and the year you initiated that friendship. By doing this you get a sense of the not just the important connections in your life, but the length and stability of your social capital.
Further, this exercise makes some strong statements about the value of loyalty. The friends you identify in your "social capital timeline" and especially those over 15 or 20 years are ones that are not only loyal but have stood the test of time. So stop for a moment now and think about these long term friends. Relish in the fact that these friends are your most loyal and have played an important role in shaping the person you are today!