Time is precious.
Ask the coach whose team is behind in the final seconds of a game.
Ask the air traffic controller in charge of scheduling takeoffs and landings at a major airport like Sea-Tac.
Ask the cancer patient who has recently learned they only have two months left to live.
Or you might ask someone who recently turned 75 years of age how they are feeling about their future – that would be me. One thing I can tell you for sure.
My future is a lot shorter than my past. At the very least that in itself can be a bit of a wake-up call and reason for reflection.
In fact I have been doing quite a bit of that since the my birthday. Once again, I have been confronted with the reality that time is beyond our control. The clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives.
I’ve also been forced to acknowledge (again) that priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have – be it a matter of days, months, or years or even less. All of our days are identical suitcases – all the same size – but some can pack more into them than others. No one, try as we may, has a magical ability to make time, but if our life has direction or purpose, we can make the most of the moments we have been given.
Looking in retrospect, I now realize that time is more valuable than money because time is irreplaceable. We can and may exchange our time for dollars when we go to work and then trade our dollars for everything we purchase and accumulate. In essence, all we possess can be traced back to an investment of time.
Bottom line… time stewardship is perhaps a person’s greatest responsibility.
Moreover, people who use time wisely share common characteristics. Allow me to share several of them I have learned or observed over the years.
First, people who use time wisely, spend it on activities that advance their overall purpose in life. By consistently channeling time and energy towards an overarching purpose, a person most surely realizes their full potential. Stated somewhat differently, we cannot reach peak performance without a peak purpose.
Purpose gives life to all that we do. In fact, I believe that the two greatest days in a person’s life are the day they are born and the day they discover why. Uncovering or discovering purpose helps to refine passion, focus efforts, and sharpen commitments. The cumulative result is to amplify the achievements of the wise steward of time.
Second, people who use time wisely, underscore their values with the time they spend. By acting in accordance with their beliefs, they find fulfillment. Failure to identify values leads to a rudderless existence in which a person drifts through life, uncertain as to what they hold dear. Clarity of values is like a beacon of light, guiding the way through life’s twists and turns.
When extended to an organization, values inspire a sense of broader purpose.
They make work worthwhile. In an organization, if vision is the head and mission is the heart, then values are the soul. Values endow day-to-day operations and transactions with meaning.
Third, people who use time wisely, play to their strengths. By doing so, they are most effective. People do not pay for average. On a scale of one to ten, if your skill level is a two, do not waste substantial time trying to improve since you’ll never grow beyond a four. However, if you are a seven in an area, hone the skill, because when you become a nine, you’ve reached a rare level of expertise.
In other words, discover your uniqueness, then discipline yourself to develop it.
We are all blessed with a unique set of skills and talents. Find them, refine them and let them carry you toward success.
Fourth, people who use time wisely, choose happiness by prioritizing relationships and recreation. While choosing happiness may seem simple and obvious, far too many people are trying to prove themselves and validate their worth. These people chase after power and prestige, and along the way their friendships wither, their family is ignored, and they skip vacation after vacation.
In the end, any success they earn is a hollow and lonely achievement.
Prioritizing time to cultivate relationships is a hallmark of a healthy person or leader. Likewise, scheduling a leisure combats stress and allows us to delight in the hobbies that bring us joy. We are wise to surround ourselves with family, friends and fun, but ultimately we determine our internal response to the people and circumstances in our lives.
And finally, people who use time wisely, equip others to compound their productivity. They realize the limitations of individual accomplishment, and they build teams or work groups to expand their impact. By developing an inner circle of co-workers and investing in them, wise time-users multiply their influence.
Those who invest in others recognize that legacies are carried on by people – not trophies. They pour themselves into the lives of others and watch the ripple effect of their leadership spread through those they have taught and mentored. So-called “equippers” seek significance over the long haul, which causes them to have a vested interest in the success of their successors.
In summary, people who use time wisely, are purposeful, committed to time test values, attuned to their strengths, choosers of happiness and equippers of
others. How do you measure up?
As much as we would like, we can’t find more time – it’s a finite and constantly diminishing resource. However, we can learn to spend time wisely.
Until next time…
Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 35 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years and is currently a member of the Lynnwood Civil Service Commission. Loren works as a consultant, writer, speaker and trainer. He is also a member of the Lynnwood Parks and Recreation Foundation.