Recently, I read a book about a man named Matthew Cowley, who was an incredible missionary and humanitarian to the people in New Zealand over 100 years ago.
The book detailed the man’s life and one thing really stood out to me. Throughout Cowley’s life, he was regarded by thousands of people to be a truly good friend.
This subject spoke to me because “friendship” is becoming an increasingly complex and confusing topic.
What does it mean to be a good friend?
What does being a good friend look like in a world of constant connection?
Cowley lived long before the internet. But he did a few things that are extremely relevant that I think all of us could do today. Moreover, with new technologies, we can actually make our friendships even more intimate than ever.
The two things Cowley did well were:
In this article, I’m going to briefly share how to radically enhance your memory, since remembering key details is essential to becoming a good friend.
I’m also going to explain why the iPhone audio-text message feature is potentially one of the most powerful tools for developing deep and meaningful friendships. Without question, when you become a good friend, you will change people’s lives. You’ll pull people out of slumps you didn’t even know they were in. You’ll be an answer to their prayers. You’ll give them strength in times of need. You’ll cheer them up and allow them to appreciate the small things in life. You’ll trigger memories they’ve long since forgotten.
By the end of this article, you will understand:
“When you train your creativity, you automatically train your memory. When you train your memory, you automatically train your creative thinking skills!” — Tony Buzan
I’ve recently written a post about how to enhance your memory. Without question, most people fail to utilize their long-term memory. There is no limit to the storage of memories we can have. Our subconscious has an infinite bandwidth.
Most people’s problem is that they lack powerful strategies for enhancing memory. Here’s a simple breakdown:
I recently met a person named Jacob, which was easy because I have a brother named Jacob. I tried to be mindful of how this new Jacob may remind me of my brother — even if it’s in a seemingly ridiculous way. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the connection is. In fact, the more imaginative the better. And the more connections you make, the deeper the memory will be forged.
Put simply, you can remember nearly every person’s name you meet if you actually give attention and care. Ask a few questions about the person when you meet them and while you’re actively listening, make imaginative connections that trigger a deep memory.
I know I’ll never forget that kid Jacob’s name. I know that my memory is infinite and powerful. I know that your memory is infinite and powerful.
In order to be a good friend, you need to remember people. First, you need to remember their name, but you also need to remember key details about them. Once you get good at memory, you can remember lots and lots of details in a short amount of time.
Which brings me to writing letters. And really, which brings me to the iPhone. This is an article about an iPhone feature after all.
Hand-written letters are indeed important. In a world of digital and surface-level communication, nothing is more powerful than a personal touch.
However, I recently became aware of the audio-text message feature on my iPhone. And after reading about Matthew Cowley, I decided to start sending “audio letters” to my friends and family.
While writing in my journal one night, several people started popping into my head. When someone would pop into my mind, I’d pull out my phone and send them and audio-text message.
Sometimes, the people who came to my mind were old friends from high school I hadn’t talked to in years. I reached out to mentors. I reached out to a cousin I hadn’t talked to in a long-time, which relationship has become quite strained over the years.
In my audio texts, I expressed genuine love and appreciation. I thanked them for specific experiences we had together and told them how meaningful those experiences were to me. I brought humor and fun into the messages when it made sense.
The replies I got to these audio messages were unexpected and sometimes unbelievable.
More than once, I had someone reach back and told me they were in tears. I had one person tell me I had “followed the spirit” and that I reached out at just the right time and said exactly what he needed to hear. Crazy, right?
I rekindled old ties that had long since faded away.
There’s a lot of really cool science behind what I’m currently describing. I’ll start with gratitude:
You actually see and treat people differently after you’ve expressed gratitude to them. This fits with two really great quotes that I love:
Thus, when you see someone or something different, you treat that thing or person differently. When you treat them differently, they change.
But not only do they change, you change. Which brings me to how motivation and identity work:
When you act kind, you perceive yourself to be kind. When you wake up early and start your day right, you see yourself as someone who is motivated. Put simply, your behavior shapes your identity. Your behavior also shapes your beliefs.
When you change your identity, your personality begins transforming as well. According to Dr. Maxwell Maltz in his powerful book, Psycho-Cybernetics, “The ‘’self-image’’ is the key to human personality and human behavior. Change the self-image and you change the personality and the behavior.”
How do you change the identity? You change the behavior. Then, as your behavior changes, your identity changes. Desire comes first, then decisions, then action, then identity, then personality. Once your personality changes, you own it. It’s now a part of you.
So how do you become a good friend?
You start acting like a good friend. And a very simple and powerful way to do this is by sending audio-texts to your friends and to anybody really. You could send texts to seriously anyone whose phone number you have and express appreciation. The more specific the appreciation, the more memorable. The more you connect that appreciation to relevant things, the more memorable it will be to the other person. Thus, not only can you rekindle friendships, you can create new ones.
This will, of course, change the people you are talking to (especially if they really need some love). It will also transform the relationship. And indeed, it will transform you.
Your behavior will change how you see yourself. When you start acting like a better friend, you’ll see yourself as more friendly. Your gratitude will change you. It will increase your self-esteem.
But not only that, your behavior will increase your motivation. Which brings me to another strand of science.
Here’s what most people have wrong about motivation. They believe motivation leads to action. This is the opposite of the truth. Action creates motivation. As famous entrepreneurial coach, Dan Sullivan has said, “Good things only happen when you are in motion.”
Thus, when you start sending greater love to your friends, you’ll feel even more motivated to be a better friend and person. Inspiration is similar to motivation. How do you get inspired? You act. You wake up early and start exercising, even if initially you don’t want to.
How you feel in the moment doesn’t really matter. What does matter are the feelings you’ll have as a result. Again, your behavior shapes your identity, beliefs, and motivation.
You can make doing the right thing become automatic once you become accustomed to the results that come by doing the right thing. As you act powerfully, you’ll develop confidence. When dispels yet another myth people have about success.
It’s not confidence that creates success — it’s successful behavior that creates confidence. So, when you do what you tell yourself you’re going to do and start getting small wins, you’ll develop more confidence.
Here’s a powerful principle to live by: Do what is right and let the consequence follow.
This is how confidence forms.
And why do amazing things, like wake up early, exercise, practice personal development, and become a better friend?
Because you deserve it. And because you love yourself. You are worth investing in.
You are worth waking up early for.
You’re worth becoming a successful person.
You’re worth becoming incredibly happy and healthy.
Your worth living a life you’re proud of.
You should make powerful decisions because you love yourself. That’s why I wake up at 5 AM, because I love myself. I’m worth having a good day. I’m worth being motivated, inspired and powerful.
So are you.
And you demonstrate that self-worth through powerful choices. You can make those choices today. In fact, you must start making them now. As Meredith Willson said, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”
“Life gives to the giver and takes from the taker.” — Joe Polish
Joe Polish is one of the most connected people in business. He has a strategy for enhancing connections. He calls it his “Magic Rapport Formula.” The principles of his formula are:
So many of these principles are life-changing. If you apply these concepts, you will become an incredible friend. You’ll build a world-class network. You’ll become extremely successful in life and business. To quote Zig Ziglar, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
Here’s why iPhone audio-texting is so powerful. It allows you to be “as close to in-person” as you can. Of course, you can send a video text if you’d like. However, audio is powerful because a person can listen to your words, in your voice, and be able to reflect. Sometimes a video can look a little strange (not that you shouldn’t do it).
Continual learning is essential for lifetime growth. You can have a great deal of experience and be no smarter for all the things you’ve done, seen, and heard. Experience alone is no guarantee of lifetime growth. But if you regularly transform your experiences into new lessons, you will make each day of your life a source of growth. The smartest people are those who can transform even the smallest events or situations into breakthroughs in thinking and action. Look at all of life as a school and every experience as a lesson, and your learning will always be greater than your experience.” — Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura
There is a key concept in psychology known as “openness to experience.” In fact, it is one of the “BIG 5” factors of personality. Sadly, as most people age, they become increasingly less open to having new experiences. Most people progressively stop seeking friendships with new types of people and avoid taking on new challenges and risks. They stop seeking new information that conflicts with their current perspectives and way of life. Hence, it is common for people to become increasingly “set in their ways” as they age.
Experiences can and should change you. Yet, many people go through life experiences completely shut-off to what their experiences could teach them.
If you learn from the experiences life is giving you, you will change. You’ll be able to produce better outcomes. You’ll be able to stop doing the things that are keeping you in unhealthy patterns. Your personality will change, and it should. Personality is largely based on memory, which should be continuously changing and expanding with new connections and associations.
I recently had a conversation with a friend who had a very transformational experience serving a two-year humanitarian and service mission for his church. A self-proclaimed introvert, he said that every day of his mission was hard because he had to be an extrovert during those two years. Once he got home, he went right back to being an introvert.
He said that he actually believed he could have made permanent changes in his personality based on his experiences. However, he said that he preferred being an introvert. As such, he didn’t really want to let his experiences sink-in. He didn’t want to change who he was. There’s too much “unknown” in that. And as research shows, the fear of the unknown is the foundation of all fears.
“Why go against my preference?” he asked me.
“I guess you don’t need to if you’re FULLY satisfied with the results you’re currently getting and the trajectory you’re on,” I replied.
Without question, a person can upgrade their preferences. They can learn to love something they didn’t love before which actually builds on core strengths.
Identity is like memory — it’s infinite. You don’t have to be just an introvert OR an extrovert. You can be a completely well-rounded person who absorbs and allows all of your life experiences to transform and expand them. There’s no need to put yourself into such a limiting box as a personality type.
So how do you become more open to new experiences?
Firstly, you need to be humble, which means that you are open to the fact that your current way of seeing and doing things isn’t the best way to do them. In other words, you need to be open to the fact that your current preferences aren’t optimal, and can and should be upgraded.
The term “humility” comes from the Latin word humilitas, a noun related to the adjective humilis, which may be translated as “humble”, but also as “grounded”, or “from the earth.”
Humility and humidity are linguistically very connected and for good reason.
The word humidity is all about moisture and wetness. Humility represents the soil. If the soil is humble, it absorbs the humidity. If the soil is not humble but hard, then it doesn’t absorb the humidity.
Humble soil accepts the nutrients that humidity brings it.
Similarly, humble people absorb new information and new experiences. They are changed by their experiences. They don’t close themselves off to them. They don’t revert back to old ways after life-changing experiences. Their learning becomes permanent and a part of them. Not temporary and forgotten.
Are you humble?
Do you absorb all that life is giving you?
Or, like most people, are you closed-off to new experiences?
Does your learning become permanent, or is most of it forgotten and lost?
Do you believe your preferences are the best approach? Or, are you willing to expand your vision for yourself and what you can be?
Are you stuck in a personality type? Or do you realize that you as a person are infinite?
Memory is infinite. So is a person’s potential to change, if they’re humble and open. If they begin behaving in powerful ways, their whole life will change.
“I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” — Martin Luther
One of the most powerful ways to get insights is by writing in your journal. If you’re uncomfortable with the notion of prayer, you can obviously meditate instead.
Meditation is without question, a very powerful tool.
Meditation allows you to transform curiosity and action into reflection, which then can lead to better outcomes.
However, for me, prayer takes meditation to a whole new level. If you believe in a higher power or “source,” then what could possibly be more powerful than proactively seeking connection with that source?
Most of my best insights come while writing in my journal after I’ve specifically prayed to get inspiration during my journaling session. This is a skill I’ve developed over a decade and it’s taught me how to receive continuous inspiration, clarity, and direction in my life.
I’ve learned how to journal in a stream-of-consciousness manner, wherein many unexpected ideas come to my mind while I’m writing.
While writing, people often come to my mind. After reading about Matthew Cowley, and seeking to become a better friend myself, I now send audio text messages to the people who come to my mind. I’m grateful for incredible technologies that allow me to develop deeper connections with friends and family.
When someone pops into my mind, I step away from my journal for 1–2 minutes, send a powerful and genuine audio-text, and then continue on with my journaling.
As I’ve done this:
Your life can change when you start making your life more about other people. As Dan Sullivan has said, “In the end, we are only whom we have empowered.”
Here’s the thing, when your life becomes about other people, that doesn’t mean it’s not also about your goals. Instead, your goals just have a higher purpose. You show up differently to help more people, and also to be a better example to your loved ones.
You can absolutely balance a life of achievement and contribution. You can be wildly successful while at the same time being a good friend.
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe
Sending audio-text messages over the past few weeks has changed my life. It’s changed my relationships. And I believe my small notes have also had a very positive impact on the people I’ve sent them to.
Here are some questions for you to consider as you meditate and reflect upon this article:
Hopefully, this article has provided some insight into how you can begin answering these questions for yourself.
Also, hopefully, this article has inspired you to use your iPhone in a new way 🙂
I’ve created a cheat sheet for putting yourself into a PEAK-STATE, immediately. You follow this daily, your life will change very quickly.
Originally published at medium.com