I am often heard to say the following:
"The sun goes up and the sun goes down. What's important to you today?"
I say this in reference to a truism that my life has taught me. That there is only one thing that truly has value in this world. Time.
This is my philosophy. And as I've grown older, I've come to realize how powerfully my estimation of the value of time underpins almost every effort I make, both personal and professional.
What follows is my latest effort in capturing what I mean.
I don't believe time is infinite. I realize that this breaks with some popular (and scientific) schools of thought, but to me it just doesn't make intuitive sense. Since man made it, it is only as long as we can measure by our existence. It wasn't here before man, and when man goes from the world, so too will go the concept of time.
Within the abstract of "time" we are each given a subset called a "lifetime"; a finite section of the whole, but one that we cannot foresee the limit of. We all know that we will not live forever, but we are limited in that we cannot possibly know exactly how long we will live. I find this to be one of the most fascinating aspects of human life.
This thing, "time", is a man made device. And as it is made by man, I see it as something not perfect, not immutable, and purposely not flexible.
But valuable? Yes. Supremely valuable? Yes. Valuable beyond anything else man has invented? To me, yes.
I think that, at its core, my personal experiences with death is what moved me into this belief.
When I was in my late teen years, I had the experience of losing three close friends suddenly within one year from the first to the last. And again, later, in college, a dear friend and co-worker simply went home one night, fell into a diabetic coma and passed.
Largely due to these experiences, I came to believe that our lifetime is a precious, fragile gift. And that since the time we have is not known, it will only ever be what we make it. It marches on without regard for our struggles or trials. But it, in and of itself is not responsible for any of them.
Instead, time is just the unwavering yardstick by which we assess our progress, set our goals, and recall our experiences. Money and people come and go. But time is resolutely present.
At our chosen work, the essence of the value of time comes to the fore, no matter if we own our own businesses, or serve others in theirs. Time is invested into caring for the outcome of our passions, our vision, and the realization of our goals. And, because it is finite but ethereal, we never know what overall percentage of time is being spent on any given effort.....What percentage of my lifetime was spent writing this blog post? Working for X company? Building Y relationship? And so forth.
As a consultant, I am frequently involved with clients in choices about how to spend time. My reverence for time makes me not want to waste it. And when spending my client's time, I think about how many days I've spent at work before the sunrise, and how many I've spent working long after sundown thinking to myself whether it's all worth it or not. And I want to make every minute count for the betterment of both my clients and my professional self.
Where I end up is in a belief that the investment of any percentage of our lifetime, no matter how large or small, is the greatest compliment we give each other.
In my estimation, no material thing can supersede its value, and nothing exemplifies the care, concern, and impact we make on each other like time we choose to share with each other.
What do you think?