Are you familiar with this famous quote from the man on his deathbed, “Gee, I wish I’d spent more time at the office.” Of course, not! That’s because no one ever said such a thing. Life is full of examples of those in their last days saying things like, “I wish I had spent more time with loved ones.”
As we leave one decade and enter a new one, I’ve done some reflecting about 2019, and visioning for 2020. What does matter? Time matters. Today is not a rehearsal. We will not get this day back.
On New Year’s Eve my best friend’s mother died. The day before Christmas a young man I know with two young children learned that he had a brain tumor (neuroblastoma). He will likely not live more than a few months. Well that was not exactly a “Happy New Year” start. But let’s be honest, life is like a pendulum that continues to swing far in each direction. The highs are high and the lows can be very low.
Yes, my friend’s mom died…and she also brought joy and meaning to the lives of her children, grandchildren and her friends. She lived a powerful life of faith and service to many, and those she touched will be forever grateful. And the young man with cancer, while in a devastating situation, is a great father, husband and human being who will leave a powerful legacy to his loved ones to follow…whether he does or does not survive cancer.
2019 has difficult memories of funerals, divorce, addiction, and depression in those I know personally. I’m sure you have your own list of challenges from 2019. 2019 also contained the publishing of Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son…a work that took my son and I more than three years to complete. And the first birthday of my granddaughter, the marriage of my son to an incredible young woman that my wife and I love dearly, and a long list of other wonderful things.
Gratitude is what I sense the most from 2019. These many blessings (and I include the challenges) that fill my life bring a sense of richness and fulfillment. These things are largely undeserved and unearned.
As an executive leadership coach and consultant, I rarely give my clients advice. But I will offer you a little. Many of my clients:
- Know a lot and continue to be life-long learners. TO KNOW.
- Use their wisdom and experiences to do much good in this world. TO DO.
- But here’s the challenging thing for many. They are so busy they rarely, if ever take time …to stop and think. TO REFLECT.
I’ve heard that Martin Luther, the great reformation theologian, said, “I have so much to do today that I need to spend an extra hour on my knees.”
My son, Jeff, and I did several dozen interviews in 2019 related to Tender Lions. Each time Jeff was asked, “What’s the most important lesson for dads in the book,” he said without hesitation, “Time Matters!” How many of us when we’re busiest have the presence of mind to do less, to slow down, to take an extra breath, to reflect, to pray or meditate?
So the next time you’re tempted to speed up, skip lunch, add things to the to do list or miss your son’s concert or ball game…time matters. Do the thing that will give you a sense of gratitude when you’re on your death bed. Make the best use of the time you have. Time Matters!
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