We all live “busy” lives and we make numerous decisions each day about how we choose to spend our most precious resource, time. Some of us even care enough to think about how the choices we make about our time allocation affects the way others, in turn, are forced to fill their schedule.
This afternoon I knew I wanted to watch my son’s lacrosse practice. I also had come to terms with the fact that I needed to run a few of the errands I had been putting off for far too long. Knowing how my son disliked being my errand wing man, I gave him an option. I could watch his practice or I could drop him off and take care of business so that he wouldn’t have to…his choice. No different than the collective ownership model in which I am committed to at work, my wife and I are big fans of allowing him to be a part of just about every decision we make. It doesn’t mean we execute per his input, but his input is a valued element of the decisions we make as a family. This time, I was prepared to blindly execute per his recommendation. By giving him the option on this one, I had resigned myself to missing his practice in favor of running errands; not because I wanted to, but because I valued his time as much as my own (Note: earlier in the day I had spent an hour in stand-by waiting for a previously scheduled meeting with a senior to begin, certainly my time was not of value.) Maybe it shouldn’t have, but he surprised me by stating emphatically, “Please watch my practice, I am OK running errands with you after.” He went on to explain that he wanted me to see him in action so we could both celebrate and laugh at the things that we would witness together. He wanted to create shared memories. The very reason I wanted to delay my errands was the very reason he was willing to be my errand wing man. Needless to say, I stayed at practice and watched with great interest.
Growing up, my parents made it a point to experience my life with me. They were always on the sidelines ready to cheer, console, or just observe. To this day they have complete context for many of my shining moments and bonehead moves. They made being there THE priority. I was willing to not be at practice this evening because I valued my son’s time, yet he was unwilling to allow me to because he valued our time more.
Over the years, I have told my “bosses” (I really dislike that word) that I’ll come in as early as I need to, but my evenings are non-negotiable. My evenings belong to my family. That is not to say that I am not committed to the team with whom I serve, nor is it a lack of commitment to mission accomplishment. It is a commitment to valuing time…mine and of those I love. When I leave work at the end of each day, I am never the last one to leave. In fact, I pass by cubicles of moms, dads, husbands, and wives, choosing to stay late. Where some see working late into the night as commitment, I see it as poor time management, an inability to leverage the talent across the team, poor parenting, and misaligned priorities.
I left work earlier than too many so that I could take my son to practice. I appreciate him helping me to choose to be there to witness it.
As much as I pride myself on being there for family, it is my wife who is always there. It is she who spends her days with our son; it is she who chooses not to work so that she can be there; it is she who chooses not to outsource our son’s development to others (i.e. traditional schools); and it is she who truly epitomizes what being there is all about.
Are you mindful of how you spend your most precious resource? Do you truly care how you might be influencing/dictating others to allocate theirs? Is a dual income and/or long hours really more important than truly being there for family and friends?