Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Value of Time

Christmas 1998.

Dear Loved One and friends, both old and new,

     I hope you didn't think I had forgotten you because I haven't.  Every year I think that I couldn't be busier and then the next year I'm busier.  I have realized this year, however, that I am going to have to slow down.  I've learned so much about the value of time this year because it seems I have had a shortage of it.  I've started this letter twice and was not happy with it so maybe "third time's a charm."

And so began my next letter . . . .

The sad thing is that I've lost a page out of this one and I know what I lost was very important.  The paragraph at the end of page one goes like this:

     "We've received excellent "instructions in righteousness" from our Pastor.  He has been very instrumental in helping us see some things that we knew all along but seemed to ignore.  We've set some goals in our lives this year and are striving to obtain them.  It is amazing how God seems to go to work for you when you try to do the right thing.  I mentioned time before.  Bro. T has . . . . . . ." 

. . . . . . . .and the next page is missing.  I can only surmise what I wrote, but obviously it had something to do with time. . . and the value of time.  This got me to thinking.

How much is time worth?  Can you actually put a monetary value on time.  Of course, from a marketing perspective, your time is commiserate with your training.  A doctor's time or a lawyer's time is worth more than a data entry clerk's time, for instance.  I submit, on the other hand, that time is priceless.  Time lost is time lost forever.  My time is as valuable to me as any specialized surgeon's time.  The Bible instructs us to "Redeem the time".    Here's my take on some of the more familiar "time" phrases you may know:

Time management.  There is no such thing as time management.  There is only self-management of the time available.  (Don't know who said this first.)

Time flies.  Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.  Birthdays seem to come at an ever increasing rate but I've still got a year to pay on that two-year note that I feel like I've been paying on for five years.    My grandbabies were just born yesterday even though they're five and three.  Hey, their daddy, my son, was just starting kindergarten yesterday! 

Time and Tide wait for no man. ~ Mark Twain.  I think he, himself aptly put this one to rights:  "A pompous and self-satisfied proverb, and was true for a billion years; but in our day of electric wires and water-ballast, we turn it around:  Man waits not for time nor tide."   "Electric wires and water-ballast?"  Boy, Mr. Twain, if you could see us now!

No time like the present.  And, don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today.  Time is too precious to waste.

Time changes everything . . .

The writer of Ecclesiastes had a pretty clear grasp of what time is and the best way to utilize time.  Put everything in its own time.

"For everything is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."  

Henry David Thoreau said, about wasting time, "As if you could kill time without injuring eternity."   Oh, if we could ever really grasp this, what awesome things we could accomplish.  You must realize the value of time.  Understand this:  time spent in relaxation and rejuvenation is not wasted time.  But don't masquerade time spent in pointless pursuits and time-robbing activities as relaxation and rejuvenation time!  All activities, or non-activities, should have a true purpose and focus.  And I'm preaching to the choir here.  And I'm a member.  Reading a book is much more rewarding, relaxing, and rejuvenating than playing a video game.  Taking a nap is far more relaxing and rejuvenating than watching a television program.  Actually, a task accomplished, finished, and done is way more relaxing and rejuvenating than procrastinating about it!

I, for one, want to look for ways to make better use of my time.  That is not to say that I will never mess up.  But I want to manage "me" in the time that is available to me so that my time will be the maximum value that it deserves.

I like what Benjamin Franklin said:  "Dost thou love life?  Then do not squander time, for that the stuff life is made of."  And finally, from Captain Jean-Luc Picard:  "Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey.  It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again.  What we leave behind us is not as important as how we have lived."

What is the Value of Time to you?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Are You A Leader?

Did you think I'd left you?  I guess you might say I've had a case of writer's block but it really was more an issue of distractions.  I apologize.  I won't let it happen again.  I'm working on myself (as I've said before) and that is a very important point about what I want to write about today - leadership. 

I've been thinking alot about this lately and reading many articles, listening to CDs, reading books and generally contemplating about just what leadership is.  Obviously, there's an extreme amount of information out there for anybody to see and study if they want to be a leader.

Just a few examples (and links - for your reading enjoyment):

Darren Hardy, Publisher and Editorial Director of SUCCESS Magazine states that someone is a leader . . ."when he or she is willing to do what others are not, even when -- and maybe most especially when -- the right thing to do might not be what's popular."   He says:  Leaders are doers.  Leaders . . . . lead.   The Unpopular View of Leadership

John C. Maxwell, America's foremost expert on leadership, best-selling author, speaker and founder of EQUIP, a nonprofit that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries, has much to say about the subject.  He avows that time management (actually an oxymoron - it's really self-management) is the most important aspect of leadership:  "Nothing separates successful people from unsuccessful people more than how they use their time."  He also says leaders see the vision of their dream clearly, have a strategy on what it will take to get there, and have prioritized the steps it will take to make it happen.

Mel Robbins, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, speaks of a "leadership gene".  I don't think we are born with one (the gene) but, if we lead, we will do it on purpose and by effort.  She says, "Leadership is . . . taking the lead."  (Back to doing what others are not willing to do.)  Robbins writes, "A true leader leaves the bathroom cleaner than they found it."  Maybe a little humorous, but extremely true.   The Leadership Gene

Chris Widener, best-selling author, tv co-host, and candidate for U.S. Senator for the state of Washington, says that, "Leadership is influence."  On this topic, he quoted John Maxwell who said, "If you think you are a leader and no one is following you - you're not really a leader, you're just taking a walk."

Perhaps my favorite is Robin Sharma, litigation lawyer turned leadership coach, when he says, "You cannot lead others until you have first learned to lead yourself."   Robin Sharma Leads Without A Title   He quotes actor Steve Martin, who, when asked how a person could be as well-known as he is, replied, "Be so good at what you do that people cannot ignore you."  Robin's dad told him, "When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced.  Live your life so that, when you die, the world will cry while you rejoice."  I love that!  Sharma states that "the world is in a crises of leadership."  I do not believe truer words have ever been spoken - of the time we live in.  He encourages "leadership at all levels:"  being a leader in whatever position of life you are in by giving it your all: adding value, cutting costs, "wowing" the customer and being innovative.  He admits that leadership is not without its struggles and difficulties.  BUT!  He says, "Your next level of excellence is hidden behind your next level of resistance." and "You really don't grow unless you grow closer to your areas of discomfort."   If you don't fall (fail), you're not getting better.

My question is: what does personal leadership entail?  I think leaders are learners.  I think leaders know how to follow and what it is to follow.  Leaders listen.  (They don't have five mouths and no ears.)  Leaders are examples . . . . of good habits.  (Actually the opposite is also true but I'm talking about good leadership.)  Leaders take risks - calculated ones - they consider the cost.  Leaders are always striving for excellence in their personal lives so that they can affect the lives of others.  Leaders are servants.  Leaders realize that the authority arrow (downward on the organizational chart) is also a responsibility arrow (upward) and that submission is a two-way street. 

If you want to be a leader . . . . then lead.  What do you admire in the leaders you know?  What disciplines do they exhibit.  Do those things.  And when you do, no one will have to ask, "Are you a leader?"