One of the great lessons I learned from my father was that when people talk about how they spend their time, they’re talking about priorities. As he put it, “When people say they don’t have time to do something, they mean they prioritized something else higher. People have time to do anything. The question is if what they put aside to do something.”
Internalized over the years, the perspective seems obvious to me now, but it clarifies. If you don’t know your priorities you don’t know how to spend your time, so you can work long hard hours and achieve little.
The main value in the perspective for me is that it enables you to do what you want. Time flows as time flows, outside of your control or influence. If you think the flow of time determines what or how much you can do, you’re stuck because you can’t do anything about it.
If you recognize your priorities determine your actions and what you can achieve, then you decide what you can work on and achieve. Understanding your priorities is under your control, as is the choice to act on them. Very empowering.
A secondary value in this perspective is it helps you understand others (and yourself) better, which is always calming. When someone tells you he or she didn’t do something for lack of time, you know he or she valued something else more (assuming competence on his or her part). You may not agree with his or her values if you think he or she should have done it, but at least you know what to deal with.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book