Counting Down Time
Counting down time can cause deep reflection in oneself. Countdowns are meaningful because they let us know how much of something we have left. They never increase numerically, they always decrease. Countdowns always end.
For me, the concept of counting down time came in a moment on a bridge. A moment that drastically changed my perception of time.
My family and I enjoy vacationing in St. George Island, Florida. It is an incredible place to visit located on the Florida panhandle. There is a scenic, 4.1 mile bridge that connects the mainland to the island.
When traveling long distances, I prefer driving through the night. There is less traffic on the road and the rest of the crew can sleep on the way home. My preferred time to leave is typically around sundown.
As we crossed the Apalachicola Bay one evening, there was a majestic sunset taking place. In that moment, I remember looking around the truck at Shannon, Ashtyn, and Grant. They were all gazing off into the perfect sunset that evening. Then…something hit me like a ton of bricks. I could not help but run the numbers in my head. Shannon and I were in our late thirties, the kids were in middle school.
Counting Down Time
The countdown began in my head. How many more vacations do we have before they leave the house? Asthyn was in eighth grade, so that would make five, only five, spring breaks. Grant was in sixth grade, so that would make seven, only seven, spring breaks.
My mind became consumed with counting down time. It was sobering. A flood of emotions ran over me. I wanted to press the slow-motion button on our lives right then and there.
Here are three deep reflections from that experience of counting down time on The Bridge.
Time is Precious
Anyone who has kids or desires to have kids has been told by someone further along in the process, “Don’t blink.” I was advised on many occasions that my kids would grow up before I knew it. In that moment on The Bridge the reality of every time I heard this hit me like a ton of bricks.
Time is the most precious resource we have. We cannot slow it down, we cannot stop it, we cannot make more of it. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Lost time is never found again.” This could not be more true.
Leaders constantly battle work-life balance. In fact, I tend to refer to it as work-life IMBALANCE as it is a constant struggle to find a medium.
The work we do is important, but the limited time we have with those we love is more important. We must constantly wrestle with these competing values, if not, the imbalance will ALWAYS teeter the scale towards work, which is the wrong direction. Understanding that time is precious counterbalances the scales.
The Greatest Title
We all have titles. Titles are something that we pursue throughout our careers. It could be head coach, principal, pastor, owner, director, president, you name it. Our titles can easily become our primary identities if we allow them to.
Titles and the pursuit of them are a component of growing but cannot become our primary identity. If we want to lead well in the workplace, our identity should be in the title of father, mother, brother, sister, son, and daughter and friend. These are the titles that should be proudly worn on every name badge you have and should lead off every biography posted online. These are the greatest titles one can achieve.
Gaming systems, toys, bicycles, and sporting equipment simply do not last. Experiences create memories that last. The memories created through experiences with my family and friends will outlast me and my time here on earth.
The bike rides, hikes, fish caught, kites flown, sandcastles built, board games played, and the sunsets last. Personally, I have never regretted going on any vacation, any last-minute weekend getaway, any camping trip, or any ballgame. I regret every single one we did not take.
A leader’s busyness can impede their ability to create experiences. It can lead to failure to plan special trips and leaves no margin for extemporaneous experiences. Creating experiences is the best way to maximize the time left in the countdown.
Counting down time will help all of us prioritize what should be important in our lives. We should desire to spend our time left with those who will cry at the reading of our Last Will and Testament. Your job will most likely be posted within a few days of your passing. Something so temporary cannot be permanently important.
The special people in our lives are the ones that will carry our legacies forward. The messages we send to generations we will never see will be written on the hearts of those we love in permanent ink dyed with experiences, stories, and love. Those messages we intentionally created with the precious time we have left.
Let’s end with the beginning in mind. Ask yourself the same relative question in your space and place. Break your life experiences with those you love into a countdown. How many of each experience do you have left with them?
Make it your priority moving forward to intentionally do the best with the time you have left.