Grappling with time is a never-ending battle. Time is our most valuable, yet limited resource we have. We never can, nor will know how much of it we have left.
This past Sunday, I took my son to compete in his first wrestling tournament. Wrestling is a form of grappling. Oddly enough, his first tournament took place at a school only a few miles away from where I wrestled my final high school match nearly twenty-three years ago. It was a forty-five-minute drive, so there was a lot of time to reflect on that.
My life looks a lot of different now, then it did then. People often tell you when you have children that they will be grown up before you know it. It could not be further from the truth.
Here are three personal perspectives on the process of grappling with time:
You Will Run Out Of It
My last high school wrestling match took place in the region tournament at the previously mentioned school. It was an extremely tough region in our weight class, there was about seven of us that could have placed in the top four. The top four went to State. In fact, three of the four that advanced ended up placing in the top six at State.
Early in the match, I made a mistake and it cost me big. I got behind on the scoreboard quick. I fought and clawed my way back to close the gap. In wrestling a pin can erase any deficit. So I took a chance on a big move and put my opponent on this back for the majority of the last period. Squeezed with all my heart and soul and just couldn’t pin him (although he was pinned…several times…the ref just didn’t call it…still a sore subject!). I just simply ran out of time.
As leaders, knowing that we will run out of time creates a sense of urgency behind our efforts to better others and the worlds we live in. We can’t always wait until the last period of life to go for the big move. There may not be enough time left on the clock. At home, at work, make the most of the time we have left.
You Get To, You Don’t Have To
If you have ever been to a wrestling tournament, it can take up an entire day. It requires a lot of time, with a lot of people, in a small space, with a lot of germs! It doesn’t always generate excitement and anticipation for prospective attendees. If I am being honest, leading up to it, my attitude wasn’t so great. I told most people this past week that, “I have to take Grant to a wrestling tournament this weekend.”
My perspective totally shifted after I pulled up to the gym. I realized that we had just engaged in some meaningful conversation on the way. We talked on the way up about our favorite warm up songs (Metallica’s Enter Sandman), things he needed to be mentally prepared for in a match, reviewed scoring systems, and of course I had to share a few glory stories as well! Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, “I get to take Grant to wrestling!”
“Get to” versus “have to” is a change in perspective. Simply applying this to our personal and professional lives can make a world of difference. Imagine if we could change our vocabulary on everything that we say we “have to” do into we “get to.” Try this in your professional world, compare “I have to lead an organization of 170 people” to “I get to lead an organization of 170 people. Maybe try this in your personal life, “I have to spend all weekend at the ballpark” to “I get to spend all weekend at the ballpark.” A single, subtle substitution of a word changes everything.
Leave it on the Mat
It is a cliché in sports, that you should, “leave it on the field.” In the sport of wrestling, it is common for a retiring wrestler to “leave it on the mat.” After their final match, they unlace their shoes and literally leave them in the center of the mat. They have put all they can into the sport
I tend to struggle with leadership books that encourage you to do less, not more. I understand the concepts and further understand these people are way smarter than me. That’s why I write a weekly blog and they are New York Times Best Sellers!
Great leaders lay their heads down at night exhausted. Why? Because they left it on the proverbial mat. They poured themselves out into others, a cause greater than oneself. Leaders run into fires, deal with chaos, make difficult decisions, have crucial conversations, and carry burdens so heavy it would break the backs of the average human being. I’m a firm believer that at that point of exhaustion, a leader can rest in the fact that they have fully served the people they lead at work and at home, and their purpose in life.
Time is a tough opponent to take down. It is a worthy opponent, one you cannot beat. It’s grappling skills are superior to any other.
The end of the year is a natural time for reflection. We get the opportunity to slow down and spend time where it matters most, with our families and special friends. These are the people that Cry at Your Funeral.
So instead of grappling with time, make the most of the time you have left in the match. The clock is winding down with every day, make the big move. Take a chance, invest your time in others, the worlds you live in, there is no better Return on Investment. Put your money where your heart is.