“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
We talk a lot on this blog about what kinds of things leaders should spend time doing, making the best & most efficient use of time, etc. I could write a book (maybe I will!!) on all the things people spend time doing that really don’t matter. If you made a list of the things you really worked hard at today, and then a year from today looked at the list, I bet almost nothing on it will really have been that important.
So what is important? How do we figure out what matters and then make sure we’re spending as much time as possible doing it?
I think the best way to figure out how to spend your time is by thinking about the people you’re spending it with. Start with your career. What do the people you work with (or who work for you) value the most about you? Is it your technical skill? Is it your contribution to your organization’s culture? Is it some personality trait, i.e., the ability to stay calm in a crisis?
Now think about your customers. What do they value in what you do? Is it the quality of what you provide for them? Is it your dependability? Is it your timeliness? Is it your willingness to be a sounding board?
Now think about your family. What’s the most valuable thing you provide them? Hint: I bet it’s not $$. What’s the thing they’d miss most about you if you weren’t there? What is it you provide them with that’s irreplaceable?
Here’s maybe the hardest one: you. What’s the most valuable thing you do for yourself? In our world, when we get busy, one of the things we have a tendency to get rid of first is time for ourselves. You can’t function at a high level without mental health, and you’ll never have mental health without taking time for things you value.
Look at the list you just made. How much time are you really spending on those things? And how much time are you spending on things that have no value to anyone whatsoever? I’ll grant you that there are some things that may be required that aren’t valuable, but there aren’t many. Usually “I have to” is just an excuse we use because we’re too lazy or afraid to try to change.
Don’t make excuses. Don’t be lazy. Don’t be afraid. Whatever changes you need to make, make them. When you focus on bringing value to every part of, and everyone in, your life, you’ll find real success – and you’ll wonder why you spent so much of your life wasting time.