Time is Few

I had the privilege of listening to some of my friends talking about the fact that they just did not have the time to do whatever they needed to do. As a matter of fact, one of them is seriously contemplating stopping his PhD research due to a lack of time to deal with his studies properly!

What struck me, was the fact that we do not deal with time as we should! Yet we are fascinated by time, and by the topic of immortality. Just check out the number of movies on time, time travel, immortality, etc! The movie, “In Time” with Justin Timberlake, tells the story of where time serves as currency. People get paid in time, the poor die young, and the rich live for ever.

In the mining environment, companies prospect for ore. When they find the ore reserves, they then start mining the ore and sell the output. However, they do realise that their primary asset, i.e. the ore reserves, has a diminishing characteristic. What I mean is that as you mine and take out the ore, the remaining ore becomes less. So, at the end of the life of the ore reserves, you have no reserves and your company is worth nothing. The primary asset therefore has a finite life. It is management’s job to continuously prospect for new reserves so that the company has a value in future.

How the companies deal with this diminishing characteristic, is that they amortize the asset in the income statement, which then also reduces the value of the asset in the balance sheet. They also strategize as to how to extend the “life of mine”.

People share the same situation, but with an added disadvantage. Allow me to explain.

People have a finite life.  We only have a certain number of years, months, weeks, hours, minutes and seconds to life. Therefore, the one asset we have in life, i.e. time, is finite. Some of us live longer, and some of us don’t. In contrast to the mining company, we do not have an idea as to how long we will live. Yet we all live with the expectation we will live forever, especially when we are young. When you get older, you start realising that life is indeed finite, and that you will run out of it some time.

Every second we live, means that there is one second less to live. Every month, week, day, hour or second we waste, means there is one less month, week, day, hour or second less to live.  That time unit used or wasted, is gone for ever.

What are the implications of this? Quite a number, actually.

First of all, do not waste your time on anything that does not add value, make you happy, or grow you. You only have so much time, and wasting it costs you big time (pun intended)!

The corollary of the above point is that you should be careful on what you spend your time on. Make sure it does add value! Make sure that it does grow you and that it does make you happy! Walk away if it does not!

Do not waste the time of other people. You are not just merely wasting their time – you are wasting the one asset they can never replace! Have enough respect for others to not waste their time. Before deciding to be late, remind yourself that time is finite – both yours and that of others.

Unlike companies, we cannot extend our time on earth. We cannot do a bit of prospecting and gain new sources of time, to enable us to live longer. That’s the disadvantage I spoke of!

So, whenever someone gives you of their time, acknowledge that this is so much more valuable than money.  It is not just, “its only time!” It is so much more! The person has given you something that is irreplaceable!

Why is experience so valuable? Because it takes time to build experience. The German chancellor of the 19th century, Otto von Bismarck, is reputed to have said, “fools learn from their own experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others!” In this way he would fast-track his own learning, without unnecessarily spending that very scarce commodity, time!

Why are brands so valuable? Because they not only bring in money, but it takes time to develop a valuable brand! And time is scarce!

The million-dollar question? What are you spending your time on? Are you creating value and happiness for yourself and your loved ones? Or are you wasting your time on senseless activities? Are you wasting the time of others?

Make sure that you spend that priceless “commodity” on activities and people who are worthy of something so special. You only have a certain specified amount of it! And the important point is, you don’t know how much time you have! You might run out of time before you get to do that special something you have been putting off for so long!

My good friend Rian Truter tells the story of a friend of his, at who’s funeral they said of him, “it is such a pity that John died so early. He still wanted to do such a lot of things in life!” Rian’s comment to us afterwards? To hell with “still wanted to”! Live life now and enjoy it with enthusiasm. Let no one afterwards say it is a pity Johan has died so early! They should say Johan died having done everything he set out to do! He lived his live with enthusiasm and grasped every minute he had! People were better off for having met him and having been his friends!

Something to live for? I bet!

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