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We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.

John F. Kennedy

I was 10 when we moved to Nigeria. My parents immediately enrolled me in primary school, where at first, I didn’t understand a word, because I spoke no English at all. It was really weird trying to explain everything, knowing that no one would understand Hungarian. I got maximum grades for all my maths tests but kept getting a constant zero for the English ones.  

Then after 3 months I started talking fluently, and at the end of the school year, my teacher said I should go onto high-school, like everyone else who reached the age of 12.

So there I was, yet in another school, which was a girls’ school led by Irish nuns. The favourite one for many of us was Sister Sheila, who before becoming a nun, was a bar pianist in Ireland. 😊 We had loads of fun with her on Sunday mass.

In Hungary we were not familiar with many of the English customs that were so well-known in this country.

One of these was the tradition of Valentine’s Day.

We were just little girls there, but we were already aware of the romantic context of this day. However, my friends and classmates also taught me, that the meaning of this day can also be extended to friends, to people who mean a lot to you, and to people who make a difference in your life.

So, on this day, like many others, I also prepared small colourful, heart-shaped cards, and secretly put them into my friends’ bags, or desks. Strictly without a name of course. And I was crazy happy when I also found some in my bag or desk.

I have nice memories of those days, because even though I was from a different culture, spending most of the day speaking a language that was not my own, in this diverse, multicultural world these little cards to me meant, that I was accepted and not alone.

There are various versions of why we celebrate Valentine’s Day at all, but perhaps the following two are the most important:

  • Emperor Claudius II. had Bishop Valentine (later Saint Valentine) executed on this day in AD. 270. There was an emperor’s rule at the time, that young men were forbidden to marry, because he believed that single men would make better soldiers. According to the legend, the bishop felt this unfair and secretly performed wedding celebrations for the young couples and gave them flowers from his own garden as a gift. When the emperor found out he was thrown into jail and sentenced to death.
  • Another version says that the Christian church created a celebration for this day to divert attention from the ancient pagan celebration of Lupercalia, which was a popular festival during roman times.

There are several different explanations for this lovely holiday, but for me it is a day, when we are encouraged to tell someone, how much their friendship and company means to us.

In today’s fast-paced world, we crave positive feedback, encouragement, and kind words. Unfortunately, we allow ourselves too little of these, because then we would have less time to be busy.

We tend to think, that if we are busy, it means we are also productive.

But is this the reality?

In the past years I’ve worked with many professionals and entrepreneurs, and the same things keep popping up as the obstacle behind recurring challenges, as it did for me, while I was a CEO. It’s more or less the following 3 issues:

  1. First of all, we don’t have time to think, to plan. When was the last time you set aside a couple of hours in your calendar? I’m sure meetings, projects are all scheduled, but how much time did you add for thinking, for contemplating? These times would have a major effect on your creativity and performance. (See another post about why.)
  2. There’s no time for good conversations. No time for those, that we think would not bring the business benefits that we hope for. Often no time scheduled for conversations where it’s just the person, or where he’s from, or what he’s up to, is what really intrigues us. And perhaps this conversation will not bring us the numbers we want, but it will bring us inspiration and so energy, and that too can add to our desired productivity.
  3. We don’t give, or we don’t get enough positive feedback. Most of us have not really learnt how to do it properly and regularly, and often, we just want to hear them from the people we care for. If we don’t receive any from them, we will be disappointed, and so we won’t notice, when we are appreciated by someone else. Positive and nourishing feedback however can work wonders with us and our performance too. And with other people’s as well.


Think about these. Which do you crave for most? And are you giving enough of these, not just to your loved ones?

Today is a perfect day for simply calling someone and telling them how much you appreciate how they’ve made a difference to your world.

Happy Valentine’s Day. 😊


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