Active friendships vs passive friendships

Friendships matter to me. I believe calling someone a “friend” is the highest honour we can possibly award. We are born into families but we choose our friends. I find that the most successful parents are those that make the transition from parent to friend once their kids become adults.

There are lots of cool quotes that define true friendship as the ability to pick up from where you left off. While I think passive friendships and “lets-grab-a-beer” friendships are nice to have, I believe in nurturing active relationships.

Active friendships are those that are, well, “active.” It doesn’t mean you share or know every little detail of what’s going on in a person’s life but it does mean you get the big picture and are plugged in.

The big question, then, is how do you maintain active friendships? Below are a few ideas that I have experimented with over the past few years.

Ideas that have not worked
Regular personal update emailing. I used to do a weekly personal update email to a set of friends every week. I managed to keep this up for close to 2 years but eventually ran out of steam. It was not all that fun as it was one way engagement – emailing is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Regular Skype calls. This worked occasionally but was a failure overall. This is a two way engagement but you run out of steam very quickly. As you have more to do, regular calls becomes tough to keep up.

Ideas that have worked
Working on projects together. This is probably the biggest success. Every initiative that you see featured on this blog is an initiative I’ve worked on with friends (e.g. Projects ensure regular contact while keeping a focus on doing something that has a shot at making a positive difference.
Inclusion. Inclusion is a principle. It just involves keeping people who matter up-to-date with the small details without too much investment. Two tools that have worked very well here are Whatsapp and Fitbit.

An idea being tested
A Mastermind group. This experiment is just 5 months old so I’m going to reserve judgment on this. For more on Mastermind groups, click here. In a way, you could call the Mastermind group a project but it deserves a separate mention because it gets to the heart of pursuing growth and development together and drives regular deep conversations.

These experiments have taught me a lot and I feel I’m getting better at active relationships now. For instance, a big group of us are in the process of launching, a charity, and that’s already turning out to be a wonderful way to stay in touch and do some good. More on this soon..

So, as a bit of homework for the first weekend in 2014, I would urge you to make a list of the friendships that matter to you and think about ways to keep them active. The best part of this is that the quest to keep relationships active has repeatedly lead me down the path of making it meaningful. That’s an incredible outcome.

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