Gina London: Go the eggs-tra mile and use Easter as a time for renewal
At first, I couldn't decide whether to weave today's lessons around April Fools' Day or Easter, since the two events arrive together. And, of course, since I'm always up for a challenge, I've decided to mention them both.
First, don't be foolish and imagine you're an engaging and effective communicator simply because you know how to talk. Speaking isn't the same as connecting.
OK. That's it for the Fool part. Now on to my better communications connection to Easter. It relates to that time-honoured tradition of dyeing hard-boiled eggs and then leaving them for the Easter Bunny. He comes to your home at night and hides them all around your living room while you sleep. In the morning, the kiddies wake up, squeal and run all around to search for the eggs and plop them into their fake grass-filled Easter baskets.
Oh, wait a minute, you guys don't really search for chicken eggs here in Ireland, do you? Well, it's a cracked-up Easter custom that many children enjoy back in the US.
Mom and dad would pick up an egg-decorating kit from the grocery store. Inside were stickers, a wax crayon and six little dye tablets in yellow, orange, red, blue, green and purple, which we placed in a tea cup filled with water and a tablespoon of vinegar. After three dozen eggs were hard-boiled and cooled (yes, that's a dozen for each of us), my sister and brother and I would spend the entire evening colouring. We took it very seriously. My sister, for instance, would stain the tips of her fingers tapping different coloured dots on an egg. I would carefully pinch an egg between my thumb and index finger to dip it just halfway in one colour and then dip the reverse end into another colour. Oooh. Stripey.
A great deal of time and effort went into the endeavour. Yet, we children weren't competing for any prize. And we definitely weren't fans of the seemingly endless mounds of deviled eggs my mom needed to make after our Easter ritual was over.
Our reward was the satisfaction of transforming those eggs into something beautiful. We simply enjoyed it. I've often said that improving your communications improves your competitive edge. And I still believe that. But, imagine for a moment you are that child who is colouring a chicken's egg - just because. Now contemplate these "process over product" considerations toward becoming a more intentional communicator.
Are you a questioner? Is your mind energetic? If not, it's probably time for some exercise. Strengthening your mind is just like deciding to hit the gym and strengthening any other muscle. The more you work your mind, the more it will work for you. So, put your curiosity hat on for the people around you.
Who are the people you work with? Your customers? Your boss? That annoying person down the hall? They're all people with hopes, dreams and fears. Thinking about them and becoming more curious about them will make your mind more active instead of passive.
When you improve your curiosity, you awaken your mind to begin to expect and look forward to new ideas. Researchers point out that without curiosity, the mind is not prepared to recognise new ideas, and they may pass by unnoticed. In this way, curiosity and innovation are directly linked. The curious mind searches below the surface to uncover and unlock new possibilities.
The curious mind is an aware mind. I love travelling because I love learning about new places and people. But I also consider myself a "constant tourist" - meaning I am always eager to find something new in my own backyard. When you are open to discovery and heightened awareness, it brings a new excitement and enthusiasm into your life. When you are consciously more aware, you will find people and experiences are far from boring. I am convinced these people have a more adventurous life.
Maybe you are not correct in your approach to that project. Are you willing to explore other approaches? Being open to learning and unlearning and relearning will expand your experience in so many wonderful ways. The more you seek to understand, the more you will understand. But first you must understand that this is a possibility: to seek and be open to change.
As you begin to enjoy learning and developing your professional and personal communications skills, you will soon be seen as someone who enthusiastically embraces tasks. You don't see your job or your world as boring and routine. You are becoming more engaged and therefore you will be viewed as more engaging.
Curious and aware people are the ones who may colour eggs just for the fun of it.
This is your chance to change and improve for the simple reason that it is fun to transform, grow and develop.
As we simultaneously celebrate April Fools' Day and Easter, here's hoping you won't be foolish enough to pass up the opportunity to work toward developing your own authentic communications style. Easter is a time of resurrection, rebirth and renewal. If you want to change your life and enjoy the learning process, now is the perfect time.
You won't regret it. Take that egg-stra step today. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)
Write to Gina in care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie
Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon
Sunday Indo Business