Two decades ago, soon after starting my first network marketing organization, I met an ambitious young man named Larry. Larry came to work at my health center and live in my home as a sort of apprentice. Skeptical at first of my “weird MLM sideline,” he gradually saw the potential; soon he cautiously enrolled. Caution gave way to enthusiasm, then to a whirlwind of activity. Larry took off.

At the time he was just 23; when we soared to the top of our compensation plan together, he was the youngest person in the company to attain that rank. I had other leaders, too, but Larry’s youthful energy and dedication grew an organization that became more than fifty percent of my entire network. The company thrived, our organizations thrived, our lives thrived.

But our friendship did not.

Early on, something went wrong; our relationship went off the rails. We both had our opinions of where (and why) it went sour. But whatever its elemental ingredients, the stew that simmered on the low burner of unspoken resentments made for one poisonous cauldron. Occasionally it boiled over in vitriolic phone calls; more typically it bubbled beneath the surface, seeping out into rancorous conversations held behind each other’s backs. Civil in person, professional in public, we worked together as colleagues. And that was that.

Ten years later, I decided enough was enough. I called him on the phone, left a message: I was sorry for the years of slights and offenses, I was grateful for all he’d done. I was proud of him. And as far I was concerned, the hatchet was not only buried, it was disintegrated.

He called back, and we talked.

I would say that phone call initiated a slow healing process that gradually, over time, led to a deep and lasting friendship…only there was nothing gradual about it. It was instantaneous. From that day on, we became the fast friends we’d never let ourselves be before. All at once, we allowed ourselves to make a genuine contribution to each other.

We had already contributed millions of dollars to each other’s lives. But from this time on, we contributed immeasurably more, I to his life, and he to mine.

A few years later, one Tuesday morning I was pulled out of sleep by a phone call from a dear and mutual friend. Did I know? Larry was dead. A freak accident. So young.

I missed him then, badly; I still miss him now. But I don’t regret the ten years we spent locked in bitter antagonism—because the few years that followed well more than made up for it.

The greatest contribution we have to make is the giving of ourselves. There’s so much we have to give each other. What stops us? Nothing worth holding onto.

JOHN DAVID MANN is Editor in Chief of Networking Times.