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Volume 8  Number 3   |  March 2018

Stop Negotiating With Time

We hear that “time is running out,” and “time is on our side,” and “no time like the present,” and “I wish I had more time!” The time has already passed since you began reading this newsletter.

It seems to me that many entrepreneurs attempt to negotiate with time. They believe that time has a certain elasticity and more can be done than is realistic. Isaacson talked about this in his biography of Steve Jobs, terming it “reality distortion.” Perhaps Jobs commanded time instead of negotiating with it!

When subsistence farming and hunting gave way to abundance farming and hunting, the notion of sacrificing to time arose. The entire beast couldn’t be eaten, the entire crop couldn’t be consumed. So we learned to stow some away for a future day and not to consume it all now. And we learned to trade the excess to others, who in return could repair our wagons, or teach our children, or put art on the walls.

Sacrifice can be seen at its greatest through the 16th Century when everyone, prince and pauper alike, believed in an afterlife. The life on earth, already short (perhaps 30 years), could be sacrificed in return for an eternal life in heaven. Hence, corrupt clergy were tolerated since they could grant indulgences, assuring us of acceptance into heaven, no matter what our prior sins were.

Time Is Not a Resource

We sacrifice for our children’s future, society’s future, and out of our own guilt. Many people sacrifice to save money for that “rainy day” but when it comes, medical costs wipe out the entire nest egg.

We need to stop thinking stereotypically of time as a resource. We all have the same amount of time, from the ancients to eternal generations to come: 24 hours in a day. The issue is one of priority not resource. Where and how you apply your time is the key to happiness and success. “I don’t have time to do that” is a lie—you do have the time, you simply choose not to allocate it in that way (which may be quite sensible and rational).

As you look at your career, bear in mind that you are in control of how you allocate your time. You establish your own priorities, unless you allow others to do so for you! How you decide to spend your time will determine how your relationships, career, and personal happiness evolve.

A few minutes have passed since you began reading this, and you’ll never retrieve them. I’m glad you allocated them to me, here. So in return I’ll share one of my credos: I can always make another dollar, but I can never make another minute.

© Alan Weiss 2018

PS: I’m running a self-esteem workshop in Washington, DC on April 3 and 4 (one full day and an optional next morning). This is a chronic problem in consulting. You can register here and get more details:


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