This month, we are focussing the Perfect Madness blog on Allies – one of the four pillars of Perfect Madness. Having allies and how you use them to your advantage makes a huge difference in our lives. Elyse is taking a strong focus this month on just one part of the allies pillar – love (here’s her first post on the subject). I’m going to cover the other areas – namely networking, family and friendships. This week it’s friendships.
An Unconventional Way To Deepen Your Friendships
Friendships are important. They’re pretty critical not just if we want to be successful in life, but to be happy in life. This post isn’t about creating friendships or finding new friends. It’s about deepening those bonds, bringing your friends in deeper, making the friends you have better friends and increasing the quality of those friends.
Over time, some of the friends that you do have will have become (perhaps they always were) haters. They’re not bad people, it’s just that, for whatever reason in life, experiences have caught up with them and the light of the dark side has shone down too heavily casting too much of a negative output. Of course, many of the self help gurus out there will tell you the answer with these people is to remove them from your life.
Removing the haters, the haters that are your friends, is one answer here. But, at some point in life you decided to make these people your friends. There was something about them that drew them to you and you to them. You shared a mutual bond in some way. Perhaps removing them from your life completely is exactly what friendship is not about. Friendship is about sharing the good times but, more importantly, it’s about being there during the bad times too.
This technique that I’m about to share is one that you can apply here, to the haters, to the friends you have fallen out of contact with, to the long distance friendships, to the close friends. To all of these groups, you can draw them in, draw them closer, rekindle those friendships and improve the quality.
Friendships are often made, and then deepened, through experiences – normally through shared experiences. The deeper that shared experience, the more unique the setting, the harder you have to work during it, the more your friends depend on you, and you upon them, the deeper that friendship becomes. Of course, there’s risk in there too – if you screw it up, if you let your friends down, it can go the other way.
This is why boxers that train together at the same gym, soldiers in the same Platoon fighting on operations, paramedics fighting to save lives all start to bond together even if they weren’t friends when they started. They share a common bond, a common goal.
I’ve been on plenty of teams. I remember a period of several years when my skydiving team would battle it out, striving to win, or even medal, at the National Championships. While for many the end result, winning that medal, is the goal, for me in this circumstance, it really was the journey that counted. We’d go on numerous training camps mostly in Florida and North Carolina. We’d train hard. We’d have long 20-jump days. We’d have practice competitions with other teams. It was amazing.
I’m not going to pretend that we didn’t have our bad days. The odd tantrum would be thrown and we had to find ways to rekindle our friendships.
But, in all, our friendships deepened. If one of my team mates from those days phoned me up now with a problem, I’d drop everything to help. We shared so much. We travelled the globe to various competitions. We helped each other in all aspects of our professional and personal lives. We became family to each other. Working together and having shared so much with each other bought us close. We shared the same bonds and the same goals and fought alongside each other to achieve.
I can’t claim to have invented this unconventional technique. I first read about it on Medium towards the bottom of a post by Rajen Sanghvi. While on a 50 day meditation streak, Rajen was introduced to Lift. This app, which has now been rebranded as Coach.me, essentially helps people to achieve their goals. It’s free and it’s an App that I use almost every day.
Rajen noted that many organizations recognize the need to put on some form of team building events. These have significant benefits both in and out of the workplace – something that is widely recognized that I won’t go in to here. However, Rajen’s view was that only a few people would benefit from these events as they could seem forced and were ineffective at getting broader team participation.
In steps the Coach.me app. The beauty here is that everyone can work on their personal goals. The goals and dreams that matter to them. They can do this where and when they want and check in on the app. With friends or colleagues using the app they can see your progress and participation. They can give you ‘props’, in Coach.me terms, for having achieved.
You might have goals for dieting, meditation or running. A friend could be focussing on yoga or giving up smoking. Yet, despite both of your goals being different you can share the common bond of achieving your goals, discussing your progress, encouraging and supporting during harder times or missed achievements along the journey. The goal no longer needs to be the same in order to achieve that common bond within your friendship.
This slightly unconventional approach provides the bonding success that traditionally has been achieved by people, by friends, sharing common real-life experiences. Now, it is being achieved by a group of friends or colleagues sharing completely different goals yet still being united together in the pursuit of achievement.
The Pleasure In Your Friendship
Friendship is about enjoyment. It’s about being in the moment and supporting those around you. The deeper the friendship, the more value it adds. That’s why Coach.me is part of the free Perfect Madness Toolkit.
As James Altucher says in this post, friendship is about finding (or giving) pleasure from people that day. No matter where your friends are around the world, no matter what they’re doing, you can cultivate and deepen that friendship as you share your uncommon goals.
Main photo by Brett Davies.