Tuesday 11 December 2018

Gina London: How to make the most out of your precious extra hour

'I have a couple of ideas of how you can put that extra hour to better use.' (stock image)
'I have a couple of ideas of how you can put that extra hour to better use.' (stock image)

Gina London

Yoo-hoo! Did you remember to set your clock back an hour? If not, before you dive back under the covers, I have a couple of ideas of how you can put that extra hour to better use.

I'm betting you'll appreciate the outcome more than sleep.

1 Commit an hour to improve your relationship with someone else.

Is there someone you have been meaning to talk to for a while but haven't? Stop thinking about it and do something. Beyond a simple text or an email, let them hear the sound of your voice and call them. Even better, go pay them a visit.

Specifically, the fine folks from the non-profit Making Connections, which is dedicated to invigorating the lives of the elderly, is urging us to spend our extra hour with an older person.

The campaign is titled, 'Give an Hour Gain an Hour' and you're encouraged to post on social media with the hashtag #GHGH. A potentially lonely or isolated person will enjoy your attention and in return you may learn a little something if you ask an interesting question besides just chatting about the weather.

For instance, pick up an old photo on the table or mantelpiece and ask them about the little dog in the corner of the picture. If they had a partner or a spouse, ask them to tell you the story of the day they first met. What's the name of their favourite song from when they were young? If they play an instrument, ask them if they can play you a tune.

A couple of years ago, I spent some time asking my great-aunt Anita, the last remaining child of my great-grandmother, about her childhood in Mexico. She had lived there for years with her younger sister, my granny, before they moved to the States. Sadly, my granny had died decades before I thought to ask her much about it. But the detailed memories that my Aunt 'Neatie', as we affectionately called her, provided are now the priceless and treasured stories of my family and heritage that I would never have if I had not made the time to listen.

"A hour can inspire social change. As one volunteer once said about the lady she visits, 'she's totally changed my view of what an older person is. Her mind is so youthful'," says Making Connections chief executive Mary O'Donohue.

That, and cultivating your active listening skills is an important part of being a better communicator. This is a great opportunity on so many levels.

2 Commit an hour to improve yourself.

What happens after you read this column? Do you think, "that's solid advice" and do something?

Many do. I receive loads of calls from people who would like a consultation and/or training and I'm always happy to help however I can. A couple of people even wrote to say they clip my column and mail it to their kids. One especially thoughtful lady goes the extra step to laminate my columns before sending them on to her daughter. Wow.

Or do you think, "that's solid advice" and do nothing? Rats. I want to encourage you to take a similar extra step.

So, if, by the end of this week, you send me a video of yourself presenting and a note outlining your goals and what you hope to improve, I will find a way to work with you.

On Wednesday, I was in a Dublin taxi on my way to chair a panel on 'One Year with Donald Trump' at the Institute of International and European Affairs. Sitting in the back seat, I was scrolling through photos just sent in from the teacher of my daughter's fourth grade class down in Cork. The children were carving jack-o-lanterns. I laughed at the array of creative and silly pumpkin faces they were proudly displaying and explained my giggle to the driver.

"Halloween's a great time for kids," he replied.

"Do you have any children of your own?" I asked.

"I had a daughter. She died last month."

Oh my God. I asked him what had happened and how old she had been. Terribly, she had a rare terminal illness and had been a sparkly eight-year-old girl before she died.

I know she was radiant because I asked if my driver - whose eyes were now streaming with tears, like mine are now as I type this - would show me a picture of her. He kindly obliged and there she was smiling up at me with her beautiful mama smiling next to her.

"She was always bubbly and happy," her dad told me.

There are no words in that horrible situation. I asked if I could give him a hug as he dropped me off. We were two humans embracing for a moment on the street and that was it. I know life is precious and tenuous. I lost my pilot father when I was no more than a girl myself. I was 11 when my dad drove off to work one foggy December. The corporate plane he was flying alone in hit trees upon landing and just like that he was gone.

I'm about helping people. I am committed to helping people become a better version of themselves - so you can better help the people in your own lives. That's it, really.

Listen, time is our most precious commodity.

Today, you have an extra hour of it. Whether you use it to communicate more carefully and kindly to an elderly friend or yourself, please use it wisely.

What would you like to improve? Take some time to send me a video clip of yourself presenting and I'll help! 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

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business