We have time myth

“We have time” is a dangerous myth to believe in

"We have time" is a myth highlighted by Leda Glyptis in part(2) of her "Monsters & Myths" interview found here. I've comitted to sharing the insights and advice so freely shared by guests on my show and those of you that are familiar with Leda's fantastic weekly #LedaWrites newsletter will be well aware of her ability to get people thinking outside of their comfort zone. In the show, Leda explains the dangers of propagating the myth in a corporate environment and how it is a huge barrier to innovation and transformation.

But this is not the blog post where I share her insights.

This time, it's personal.

Last night I watched the movie "Clouds" on Disney+.

It's the true story of the final years of teenage Zach Sobeich as he deals with terminal cancer and the movie triggered me on so many levels, for so many personal reasons and I'm not ashamed to say that I was a complete and utter mess by the end of it.

For me, the core theme of the movie is TIME. 

Time is the single, finite resource available to each and every one of us and the one thing that no money or power can ever get us more of.

No matter how much we try to tell ourselves "we have time", the hard truth is that our time is limited and therefore the decisions we make about how to use our available time are the single most important decisions we make in our lives.

Over the last year I have been dismayed by the degree to which so many of my friends have squandered their time during the pandemic by binge-watching TV series and tirelessly working their way through the Netflix catalogue. I understand the need for some escape from the situation but I can't help wondering if they could be making better use of their time?

I never have enough time and having already passed the half century of my time on this planet a few years ago, I know for a fact that I have less time left to live than I have already walked this world - that's just a simple fact.

The pandemic has highlighted the fragility of life and I'm sure that many of the multiple millions of people that have lost their lives due to it had also thought "we have time" - right up to the point when they didn't.

Perhaps one of the reasons I was triggered by the movie was due to me losing my mum to cancer. She had gone through multiple rounds of chemo and had been in remission for a few years. We had moved continents and her and my dad had visited us on a couple of occasions but we had only managed to go back and visit them once before she passed away.

"We have time" I thought as I busied myself with rebuilding our own lives after leaving the country of my birth (South Africa) following a catastrophic political decision that caused the collapse of the industry my wife and I owned a business in. We declared our company insolvent and we lost everything as a result of staking our house as surety for the business.

"We have time" to make more money and rebuild our lives in the UK we thought as we put everything else on hold.

I had spoken to my mum just 2 days before I got the call from the hospital that my mum had been rushed into after suffering organ failure as an indirect consequence of the chemo.

"We have time" I thought as I boarded the flight that same day to rush out and say my goodbyes - until I ran out of time as she passed away while I was still in the air.

In the movie, Zach's teacher sets the class a task to write their college application essays - something Zach finds difficult to do as he knows he is out of time and will never attend college. He writes the essay anyway and the narration throughout the movie is taken from the letter he wrote (in real life).

One of the points Zach's teacher asks the class to contemplate is a quote by the poet Mary Oliver:-

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Given that Zach knows he has but months left to live, it guides his decisions as he sets about making the most of his time and it is revealved in his letter that his drive came from the desire "to make people happy" - which is an astonishing thought for someone that had been dealt the hand he had in life.

My wife and I contemplated a similar question a few years ago when what was supposed to be a routine 20 minute procedure ended up with her spending hours in surgery and emerging with a large chunk of her calf removed along with the malignant tumour that had been detected.

In the months that followed, we made many life changes and choices and while she remains in remission, the threat of the cancer returning remains for the rest of her life.

"We have time - what will we do with it and how do we want to spend it?" became core to every decision we made and our focus was on family first.

In 2014, her time almost ran out (again) when she suffered kidney failure from a relatively rare condition called "nephrotic syndrome". While most people recover from an episode and continue to live a normal life after treatment, a few "unlucky" people relapse repeatedly and end up on lifelong treatment to manage the condition which often requires a kidney transplant at some point.

My wife is one of those "unlucky" ones.

At exactly the same time in 2014 as her condition reared its head, I was made redundant from my dream job - one where I had thought "I have time" to make a difference.

I was out of time.

Every single day since then I have been driven by the singluar thought to spend my time as best I can. I made a conscious decision to strive for a better work life balance that would enable me to take on more household duties to allow my wife more time to recover and also enable us to spend more time together - which meant forgoing the safety and security of a corporate role and striking out on my own in order to gain the flexibility we needed (thankfully my wife has been able to retain her full time employment all the way through this thanks to the support of her employer).

As anyone that has ever started off their own practise from scratch will know, it takes years to get established and finally in 2019, it seemed as though things were beginning to come right on my side just when they really needed to as my wife was once again struck with health issues that required spinal surgery with an extended period of recuperation (she really is falling apart ..... I should have checked the warranty on parts when I entered into the marriage contract all those years ago 😜).

And then ....... 2020

My entire pipeline of workshops and bookings evaporated in February 2020 at the first whiff of lockdowns (and it hasn't recovered since).

I have a burning desire to help as many people as I can THINK and BE more innovative in everything they do (it's my personal passion and I'm told I'm quite good at it) as I fervently believe that innovation and entrepreneurship will be a huge contributing factor to economic recovery post pandemic.

While I've spent literally thousands of hours (I'm a geek - I diligently track time using a gadget) hustling and working on my own business concepts and ideas over the last year (more to be revealed in future posts), I've still managed to carve out time to support many friends, family members and a few random strangers, think through their own ideas and concepts as no matter how sh*t I think I've got it right now, I also know that they are out of time ........ and of course a lot of that time spent was simply providing emotional support to the same people as they struggled with the same realisation.

Organisations of all sizes that have repeatedly thought "we have time" in the past have also realised that they too, are out of time.

We are ALL out of time and we are all faced with tough decisions on how to move forward.

At the end of the movie Zach leaves one last message for the world:-

"You don't need to know WHEN you are going to die in order to start living"

I know what I want to do with the rest of my "one precious life" that I have remaining - how about you?