Character Creates Opportunity® – Time: Wednesday, November 26, 2013

As we continue to build and strengthen our character, an important aspect is to acknowledge the importance of time in the choices we make.  There are two areas of time that we will review in today’s blog.

(1)    Time is an essential and limited resource.

“All my possessions for a moment of time.” Queen Elizabeth on her deathbed in 1603.

If we have lived long enough, we have all experienced the clarity that comes with an end of life experience for someone we love and respect.  We have no desire to call our stock broker, check our smartphone for a work email, the latest sports score, or any news on Facebook.  In those closing moments, the priorities of life get simple and clear.  We remain focused on family, friends, and shared experiences with those we love.

As we continue to build and strengthen our character, our gift of time will be used wisely when we make the most effective choices on how we spend it.  There are plenty of time management tools available to assist in guiding our choices (I particularly like The Eisenhower Method developed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower that was then popularized by Stephen Covey in his book, First Things First). “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important” is a common phrase used in discussions about setting priorities.  We should use whatever tool or technique is helpful, but the principle is to create greater capacity for important activities by intentionally working to minimize or eliminate unimportant activities.

When we make more effective choices, we can maximize our gift of time.  In the process, we will continue to build and strengthen our character when we spend time on those activities that are important, but not urgent.  Things like developing short and long term goals, making specific plans to achieve those goals, spending time with loved ones, exercise, rest, etc. are all important ways to spend our time, but are often not urgent in our day to day mix of activities.  Spending our time jumping from one urgent issue to the next, then attempting to “catch our breath” in various activities like watching television or surfing of the internet, will bring about moments of weakness in our character and will result in us making poor choices in the way we treat others and strain the relationships of those we care about most.  We own the choice of how we spend our time and our Character Creates Opportunity® to maximize the gift of time.

(2)    Time is a great counselor.

Wisdom comes with time, experience, and learning.   School-age problems that seemed insurmountable as teenagers seem so trivial in our adult years.  “Make or break” challenges in the early years of marriage seem minor as the decades of married life pass.  Early struggles in parenting seem to become manageable as younger children pass through those same stages where we lost our patience with the first born of the family.

However, the reality is that some feel-good “secret tip for successful relationships” from a so-called expert cannot quickly dissipate that horrible feeling in our stomach or anxiousness in our mind when a relationship is recently strained. It is quite often that only the passage of time affords us the best perspective and insight into handling the problem in a more caring and understanding way.  Through the passage of time, we can develop greater patience, improved understanding, and appreciation for other points of view.

We can make effective choices to build and strengthen our character and gain wisdom faster by ensuring we remain teachable, choosing to learn from our experiences, and observe and learn from others.  In addition, when we make the critical choice to not quit on difficult relationships, we enable time to act as a great counselor in healing a strained relationship.

Time is a precious gift.  Our Character Creates Opportunity® to make effective choices in using it wisely.