By Gail Stone.
I believe one vehicle to success is hearing what successful people and leaders have to say. They do not have to be famous. As I have mentioned, once you become a “leader of yourself,” you have the ability to lead others. The following quote is not from a famous woman. She is a long time colleague of mine and a leader in the hospitality industry, owning and operating her own restaurant.
“When it’s important, you want to block out the time.”
– K. Sullivan
Five years ago, these words first rang true to me (and still do) when Ms. Sullivan explained why, with her enormously busy schedule as the owner of a popular restaurant on New Year’s Eve, she blocked out time to take me to lunch. It was at a time when I was in need and I was very touched and grateful. Though we had worked together in our industry for over 25 years, I don’t think we ever had a personal or meaningful conversation until that afternoon. As a result of this experience and her quote, I have embarked upon a mission to make people more aware of the value of quality time. Generally, it is only possible when you block out the time, because engaged people, like us, are busy!
It’s particularly important to block out quality time with the people who matter most in your life. Recently, my niece and her husband of 15 years came to visit Chicago and we had planned for about a month to set aside time to spend together. We did this when she visited about five years ago and it was the first time in almost 40 years we had set aside time for one another. But in just one hour of quality time, my niece, her son and I all became so close and we have been able to maintain that for the last few years. It really is truly special. Now, this time around, I was able to get to know the wonderful man that is her husband and I’m so grateful for that opportunity! This all happened because we prioritized “blocking out the time.”
As you are visiting this wonderful site, focused around family, I want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of blocking out quality time with your grandchildren. They are our future, and time is precious — please don’t miss those opportunities! One-on-one time with your grandchildren could be the most valuable time you ever spend.
Being a “grand aunt,” not a grandmother, I embody this philosophy for myself as well. Last year I made a commitment to block out the time for my grand nieces and nephews. I generally just see them at family gatherings with a quick hug and on to the next. I wanted to get to know them better, create a deeper bond and lasting memories. And you know what’s so exciting? In the process, not only do we have a great time, we also learn from each other. That is another value of quality time. Family reunions and gatherings are wonderful, but it’s that one-on-one time that really allows you to get to know a person.
As a teacher for over 50 years, I’m going to give you two assignments. One is to think of a time in your life when you blocked out time to get to know someone better, and it made a huge difference in that relationship. The second is to think of the meaningful people in your life and choose someone – or even a pair/couple – for whom you want to block out quality time for and get to know better. A quiet meal together tends to serve well for these engagements.
A perfect example of this happened to me a few years ago. I put together a University of Michigan sorority reunion. A “sister” asked if she could stay with me. I would have preferred to be alone as I had a lot of responsibility that weekend and wasn’t feeling well, but I would never have told her “no.” It was great! We stayed up late two nights in a row giggling in bed like college days. It was the first time in 50 years that I had taken the time to get to know this very special woman! It was a wonderful experience to share such quality time with her, and as a result, we remain dear friends to this day!
Please keep this concept of blocking out quality time with you throughout your lives. It will serve you well, and have a positive impact in your life and in the lives of others. Block out quality time to be with someone you’ve cared about, but never really knew who they are or what they’re all about. You’ll become quite enlightened about a very special person. Each of us has value – something special and unique. People just have to spend some quality time to get to know us!
Who are you going to block out quality time for now!?