This morning my wife Lisa told me that time is my most valuable resource. Money is a resource and time, well that’s something else.
My dad had a very wealthy friend. He went to visit him in his final days, his friend was dying from complications of diabetes, and he was in his 50s. During that final conversation, he told my dad that he would trade all his wealth, properties, and businesses for my dad’s health and time. He told my dad that he couldn’t buy health and time, but if he had health and time he could earn his life back.
Lisa reminded me that time allows us to realize how wealthy we are.
We are constantly racing against time. We are in a hurry to get that next promotion. We want to learn as fast as we can so we can move on to something else. We impatiently wait on others. We get mad at the internet because it doesn’t get us the information in less than a second. We blast our car horns when someone doesn’t move fast enough. We blow the chance to have an incredible dinner with our spouse when we grow angry with how slow the service is.
Maybe that’s the idea, It might be the universe’s way of telling us we’re blowing it, we are missing opportunities to realize how wealthy we are.
I recently spent a week with my grandchildren, talking about the reality of time and wealth. My three-year-old grandson Elijah always wants to walk to the park. The park is five minutes down the street. We would start walking and I would pick him up because he was so slow. He would tell me, no grandpa, down and wigged his way out of my arms.
Five minutes turned into 20 minutes. I was in a hurry to get to the destination and my grandson was teaching me patience, and the joy of discovery and exploration. In those 20 minutes, I became the wealthiest man on earth because we shared time.
Why do we ignore our greatest resource?
Don’t get me wrong, money is a nice resource to have. How much time do we spend caring for our money and investments as opposed to how we care for our time?
I will stop and pick up a penny in the parking lot. A friend of mine laughed at me when he saw me do that at a restaurant. He asked why I did that. I told him that if I find enough pennies I will have a dime, a quarter, or a dollar.
What do you do with your pennies of time?
When I was a youngster my mother would point out a penny in the parking lot and say “See a penny, pick it up, and the rest of your day you will have good luck.” I always thought that meant I would find more money. Little did I know that as I got older good luck meant a penny of time to be grateful.
As I write this post I pause between thoughts and look out my office window to see a robin sitting in the branches of a bush in front of my window. It makes me smile, there’s a penny of time.
As I type, through all the noise in my office I hear the chittering of the chickadees in the bush outside my window. My son who is sitting in his office texts me and asks if I can see and hear the chickadee, smiley face. A penny of time was shared with my son.
Now, while typing this post I start to hear not only the chickadees I also hear the red-winged blackbirds who have joined in the concert. I smile and enjoy the music for a few seconds. A penny of time.
What we gain when we collect pennies of time.
As leaders, we blow the opportunities to see our staff in those pennies of time. We fail to see a frustrating moment. We miss the opportunity to smile and nod at someone acknowledging them for doing the right thing. Waiting in line to get our coffee, we stare at our phones missing a penny of time to say hi to someone and share a smile. When we pick up that penny we might say the only nice words someone has heard all day.
If used wisely, those pennies of time can add up to developing trust. People start to see you as an authentic leader, not just a boss.
When we collect enough pennies, we can spend a dime and write a thank you note to a staff member who will remember the thank you long after the dime was spent.
While we sit and wait for our food we are granted a penny of time to smile and tell our significant other how much we appreciate them and why.
Pennies are more valuable than you think they are.
- They are shared moments even in silence, a smile can say a thousand words.
- A compliment or a quick thought-of-the-day email that makes someone feel good.
- A nod of approval to let someone know you see them.
- Stopping to pick up trash when you thought no one was looking.
- Wiping the countertop at work after you get your coffee.
- Putting more paper in the copy machine after you use it.
- Putting down the phone and making eye contact so someone knows they are being heard.
Pennies can make others feel welcomed and appreciated, how about you? What can you do for yourself with a penny of time?
Exercise | Deliberate practice
As you go through your day look for the pennies. Write them down in your journal so the penny becomes a habit to pick up. The penny of time it takes you to jot down a quick note in your journal can add up to major dividends down the road when you see the value in the penny of time.
Make sure you spend pennies on yourself. If you want to double your investment do or say something for someone else that will make them and you feel good. Take a penny of time and look around the office and see the office, the people, the activity, and the amazing things happening right in front of you that you miss with your nose in your phone.
Pennies of time can make you feel wealthier than money itself. My wife always tells me, that the more you give away the more you get back. When Elijah and I came back from the park, Elijah would tell his dad about the ants, the dead spider, and the rocks we found along the walk, not a word about the park at all.
If you don’t do something with time, it spends itself and what we have left at the end of the day is a sink full of dirty dishes.
It’s your choice, you can choose to ignore the penny in the parking lot or you can choose to stop and pick it up.
Don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow never comes. What you have is today and this is the best time to begin anything.