Have you ever stopped to think how much time is worth? Every day each of us receives the same 24 hours/1440 minutes/86,400 seconds of “time.”
People live by the clock, because time is important to all of us. There’s a story about a man who worked at a factory and one of his jobs was to blow the factory whistle at five o’clock to indicate that the work day was complete. He walked to work each day and passed a jewelry store where a beautiful grandfather clock was displayed in the window. Every morning, he stopped and set his pocket watch to match the time on the grandfather clock. One morning the shop owner was out front sweeping the sidewalk and the factory worker asked him how he kept such accurate time on the grandfather clock. The man said, “Oh, I set it every afternoon when the factory whistle blows at 5:00.”
Time can be a frustrating commodity to many people. We have all seen people race against the clock. We hear people say there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Yet, these very same people often waste the time they are given. Benjamin Franklin said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
As we in the chamber of commerce and association management fields rush from one meeting to the next, plan the next event, chair another committee, plan another board retreat or implement a strategic plan, we often feel as if the work is never done before it’s ‘time’ to move on to the next pressing task at hand.
Time really is valuable. To realize the value of one year, ask a student who failed a grade. To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who went into early labor. To realize the value of one hour, ask the businessman whose flight is delayed and he misses an important business meeting that could make or break his year. To realize the value of one minute, ask the man who has a heart attack in a restaurant and a doctor happened to be sitting at the next table and gave immediate CPR, saving the man’s life. To realize the value of one second, ask the football coach who allowed one play to slip by and score a winning touchdown by the opposing team. To realize the value of one hundredth of a second, ask the Olympic swimmer who missed the gold medal by six-one hundredths of a second.
There is an entire field of study called “time management.” Stephen Covey writes in his popular book, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, “Time management is a misleading concept. You really can’t manage time. You can’t delay it, speed it up, save it or lose it. No matter what you do, time keeps moving forward at the same rate. The challenge is not to manage time but to manage ourselves!”
I am reminded of a well-known line from one of my favorite movies, Dead Poets Society, when Professor Keating (Robin Williams) tells his students, “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” It’s about time!