As the legend goes, a titan of industry one day sat in a courtroom defending himself against an overzealous public attorney on the charges of ignorance.
“Isn’t it true, Mr. Big Shot,” the attorney sneered at the defendant, “That you are ignorant of what’s going on around you in the world?”
“Yes, I’m guilty of that,” the Titan replied calmly, “But when I need an answer to anything, I can push a button and have five men immediately at my beck-and-call to find out the answers.”
His reply infuriated the prosecutor, but it made a lasting impression on the courtroom and those that were documenting the day.
The titan, Henry Ford, had no time for trivial matters. He had grand ambitions to pursue, extraordinary obstacles to overcome, and world-changing practices to implement into his business.
He would go on to be remembered for his work, the prosecutor would fade from memory.
And so the big lesson is there for us. Concentrate on what counts.
I’ve always loved the idea of having a big oak desk in my office with nothing on it. No phone (not even a red hotline phone directly to Batman). No stacks of paper. And best of all, no computer. In fact, in my fantasy, no electronics would even be allowed in this office.
(Ok, it would still have a button under the desk that activated a trap door in front of it, a la Monty Burns from the Simpsons, but aside from that, no electronics.)
Bookshelves full of leather bound classics would line the wall from floor to ceiling. A fireplace would crackle to the port side and faithful dog would lie in front of it…on top of a polar bear rug made from one of our hunting trips.
A secretary, yes, my very own Ms. Moneypenny (perhaps she’d be called “Ms. Bitcoin” in this day and age?), would sit outside my office and act as the ruthless gatekeeper to my world. No time wasting sycophants would pass, all time vampires would be blocked.
But she would not be the greatest member in my employ.
That designation would go to my servant, Mr. Time.
Picture yourself in this position of power.
You arrive at the office at 7am to be greeted by the always smiling and cheerful Ms. Bitcoin behind her desk.
In you go and sit in your plush leather chair at your thousand pound oak desk.
You’d bring out your priority to do list.
There’s no FB, no Twitter, no online shenanigans fighting for your attention.
Instead, it would be single-minded laser-like focus on the task at hand.
You might be reviewing numbers. Dictating memos. Writing a sales letter by hand with an elegant pen on long foolscap paper. Perhaps you’d be crafting a speech or script.
Imagine the clarity and focus you’d achieve in this environment with nothing fighting for your time or attention.
And you’d also be figuring out what did not belong on your to-do list. Every morning you’d add to the $10 an hour tasks that would be eliminated from your to-do list and handed to someone else.
Mr. Time would be there to serve you, rather than you being a slave to the clock.
Just think of what you could get done.
You’d be like ol’ Henry Ford who just pushed a button for answers when he needed them.
Now let’s look at the reality of all of this.
Do you need a secretary, a $10,000 desk made of the finest mahogany and oak, or, of course, a time machine, to make this fantasy even the slightest bit politically correct?
No, you need not any of that in order to make Mr. Time your servant, rather than you his slave.
You simply need to take a stand. And a stand it literally could be.
As a young personal trainer, I learned to make Mr. Time my servant while riding the bus and subway to and from the gym (my old ‘office’) back in the early 2000’s. While other riders stared blankly into space, read tabloid-like daily papers, or played around with this new-fangled gizmo called the “iPod” (a fad I thought, it would never last!), I was there standing cramped in the corner of the car typing feverishly away on my blackberry, creating newsletters and workouts and articles with every free second that I had.
From 4:40am – when I’d wake up 20 minutes early to attack my day and get Mr. Time under control – to every single free second I had between clients and to every minute of my commute, I pushed ahead towards my ultimate goal of building an online fitness business.
We don’t need other people to make our time effectiveness more efficient. We just need a plan in place. We need to take action. We need to eliminate the obstacles. We need to identify our magic time, and ruthlessly foster and protect it.
We need to stop making excuses that people are stealing our time, and instead stand up to them and to the world and to the obstacles that are thrown at us. We need to identify at least two solutions for each one of these obstacles, and then prepare to implement them immediately when our time begins to slip away.
Mr. Time is my servant, I’m sorry. You cannot have mine. Get your own.
Take a stand, like Mr. Ford did, and like I literally did.
Reclaim your servant. Become the master, not the slave. Own the clock, don’t let it own you.
It all starts with getting up a little bit earlier each morning, having your day scripted into the tasks you must complete, and setting up the rules of engagement for your co-workers, contract workers, and anyone else that could be an obstacle in your way.
Don’t tell me it can’t be done. If you’ve found time to read this essay, you can make time to move your business ahead with a key contact, a quick writing session, a sales call, or even just 10 minutes of product creation.
Time is slipping away. Will you let him leave you without his doing your bidding? Or will you choose to have Mr. Time at your beck-and-call, like Ford and I have chosen to do.
You have big dreams, and they will not be accomplished by doing little things.
Take action. Take a stand. Take your time and do it right now.
“No one gets older by surprise.” – Dave Kekich