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The Most Precious Valentine's Gift (That You Can't Buy)

10/02/2014 15:01 GMT | Updated 11/04/2014 10:59 BST

So have you bought your Valentine's Day present yet? No? Good. The less we give in to the ridiculous idea that love equals spending, the richer our lives will be. Literally, and metaphorically.

However, for Valentine's Day, or any other celebration for that matter, there is one theme worth picking up on, and running with. And that is the idea of GIVING.

Just over a month ago, this message came loud and clear to me, as I was contemplating what the last 12 months meant for me. The message, or realisation, is that everybody wants to give. If you make it easy for someone to give, they will. It's in us. This is the natural equilibrium.

Those who are inconsiderate, selfish, mean, or generally repellant to people - they tend to upset this equilibrium.

At the other end of the scale, there are those who give the extra mile. These are the people that become successful. And all that giving makes them happier people.

In business, I've seen movements towards giving... from content marketing strategies that reward those who genuinely give away their knowledge, to businesses that place customer happiness beyond profits, to business owners that genuinely give their employees all they need to be happy. These businesses are thriving.

In work, those that have unselfishly helped their peers find their help returned tenfold. Be it colleagues, business mentors, entrepreneurs helping each other, and freelancers giving it that extra day to deliver over and above "the scope".

In life, I've seen that giving time and attention, genuine attention, to friends and family, builds bonds that last an eternity.

And the most precious gift you can give someone? It is time. Your time. Nothing is more special than that. Not even the rarest diamond in the world. Because once you have given your time to someone, that time is gone, and the only person in the world, ever, who has benefited from that time is the person you gave it to. Nobody else. How much more special can a gift be?

If you caught yourself thinking "but I don't have time", here's a tip from Adam Grant, author of the excellent book Give and Take:

Embrace the Five-Minute Favor. Ask people what they need and look for ways to help at a minimal personal cost, such as giving honest feedback and making an introduction. Here's a simple exercise to get started as a connector. Start by going through your Rolodex, LinkedIn, or Facebook network. Identify pairs of people who share an uncommon commonality. Then, pick one pair a week and introduce them by email. You might also reconnect with dormant ties--not to get something, but to give. Once a month, reach out to one person with whom you haven't spoken in years. Find out what they're working on and ask if there are ways that you can be helpful.

For this Valentine's Day, and beyond, GIVE. Not just to those that you're involved with romantically, but to anyone you care.

And if you really want to give someone something special, give them your most precious gift of all: your time.