December 19, 2019
by Dave Bushy
We can’t touch and feel time or even see it. It is not part of any of our five senses, yet it wraps itself around us throughout our lives. We read about its relativity and definitely feel those effects as we sit through meetings that seem to drag on forever, or enjoy a pleasant weekend with friends that often feel like they end in a minute.
At some point in our lives, each one of us struggles with what we call “Time Management.” Clients often lament to me that there are just not enough hours in the day. They do their best to cope with the demands in their schedule to be successful in their personal and professional journeys. And far too often they feel as if they are failing at prioritization, endless lists and the myriad tugs to their attention that they think is necessary. They don’t feel as if time can be tamed, let alone managed.
Is it time to rethink the concept? Perhaps it’s more about Navigating Time than managing it.
We are on a trip marked by time, for sure. Our challenge is to see our lives as journeys, not just lists or spreadsheets or Kanban boards. Useful as those tools are, they also need to be complemented by a more holistic view that bring our values and beliefs to bear.
Time Navigation is about value. How do we value what we are doing? How do we value other people in our lives? Is everything of equal value on that prioritized list you make? If everything is on that list and valued equally, then isn’t it just an organized method of over-committing yourself?
Value. Think of that word. We should first decide what we value. And we should carefully determine what guides those values. And that equation is not about time. It is strictly value assessment. If we value some aspect of our lives, then the best thing we can do is name it. Is it our relationships? Is it the co-workers with whom we interact? Or is it the project or list of projects that get in our way as we try to deal with the people in our lives?
I worked with a direct report one time who had been married some time before. He and his wife were overjoyed after years of trying when she delivered a baby boy. He came into me one day and said he had decided to step down from the time and dedication-intensive managerial role in which he served. He looked me in the eye and said, “I’ve decided I want to take the time to be the best father and husband I can be.” That said it all. True, he made a decision that involved time. Yet it was really all about what he valued and how he wanted to be valued.
Navigating time involves decisions that can be about what you value.
And they can also be about what you want to avoid.
How often does a corporate leader focus on the minutiae of his or her job and fail to address the larger strategic issues that the company faces?
And how often do we work on the “nuts and bolts” of our job and forget that the most important aspects of our company are not about those parts, but about our people? People are complex and our relationships with them often challenging. Yet building the rapport with each person and the ability to communicate with her or him on many levels can be rewarding personally – and professionally. And it can hold texture and meaning and value that transcends time.
So often a client will tell me about an individual with whom he deals who is difficult or needy in some way. When I ask, “What did you say when you had the conversation with him?” I often hear, “Well, I didn’t have time, so I just walked away frustrated.”
Didn’t have time? Or not place value on the relationship and the need to build it?
Those are the questions each of us faces as we navigate the dimensions of time and value. In my coaching practice I try to remind myself and my clients that our values and our beliefs are core to our being. Time is not the core. It is just something we navigate by using the values inside of us as navigational beacons and North Stars to guide our journey.
Dave Bushy of Boston Executive Coaches – bostonexecutivecoaches.com – is a former senior airline executive who works with leaders throughout American industry.