The FIRST Essential Ingredient for Business Success

You had 24 hours yesterday. So what did you do with them?

Did you fritter them away in mindless and pointless activities? Did you vegetate in front of the TV? Did you go out for dinner with your lover? Did you work for 8 hours making someone else rich? Did you work on your business so that it grows and achieves for you the dreams you dream of?

The most precious commodity we have is time. When you are young, it seems like it comes in an endless supply. Yet as we get older, we realise how fleeting it is – and how much more valuable than even gold or silver.

Time marches relentlessly onwards. Tick, tock, tick, tock, the seconds pass, even as you are reading this article.

You have this life only once to live… is it all you wanted it to be? As Rudyard Kipling says in his poem “If”, are you filling each unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run? Because, to me, it seems the greatest tragedy of all is to waste those precious seconds on things that are of no importance to us.

Why? Because that leads to REGRET. And regret, I believe, is possibly the saddest and most pitiful emotion to live with – to look back on your life not with warm glowing memories, but with a leaden ache of regret. “If only I had…”

My friend, if there is one thing I wish for you is that on your dying day you can look back and say “I have no regrets.
I have lived a full, and happy, and satisfying life.”

So how do you achieve that? Make sure you fill each unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run.
“Running where? Doing what?” Doing what is important, that’s what. But it is what is important to YOU that matters, not what is important to anyone else.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I am not talking pure hedonism. I don’t say you should fill every moment with self-indulgent pleasure. But I do believe that (as much as is humanly possible) every second should be filled with what is *important* to us.

What do I mean by that?

As I see it there are two types of “important”. The first is the higher goal: those things that are “an end” in themselves. Those things that we dream of, and seek after.

They are the things we would do if we had no “necessity” of doing them – i.e. if we had no money worries, no chores, no commitments. They are the things we will look back on, and smile about. The things we will say, “I wish I had done more of that”.

They are different for everyone of us, but for me the list would look something like this:

* Spending time being intimate with my family and friends – enjoying each other’s company.
* Spending time doing the sports I love, and visiting the places I enjoy.
* Spending time helping other people to be successful (it excites me to see people succeed).

But, the reality is that I am not (indeed I doubt anyone is) in a position to do these all of the time. So there is a second rank of “important” things that I do. These are important because they help me to have MORE time to do the first rank. These are important because they are the “means” to the end. They include such things as:

* earning money
* paying bills
* keeping fit
* maintaining and looking after my possession (e.g. the car) and, above all
* building my business so that it runs itself

If I fail to do these then, before to long, I will have no time at all to do the really important things. And, even in this list, some things are more important than others – building my business (which will provide me with much free time in the future) I rate as more important than doing hourly consulting (which pays the bills, but does not buy me time in the future).

Everything that does not fit into the above two categories is UNIMPORTANT – to me, anyway. In fact, they are worse than that – they are distractions that use up my precious time and take me further away from the important things.

Life is too short, my friend, to fritter on the unimportant.

So tell me, what did you do yesterday? No, not in vague generalities; what did you actually do, hour by hour, minute by minute? In fact, why not get out a piece of paper, right now, and just run through the day from the time you woke up, to the time you fell asleep.

Then, go through them, one by one, and ask yourself, “Why did I do that? Was that the best use of my time? Did it take me closer to my goals? Or was it just a big distraction and time waster?”

Finally, learn from the exercise. Look at tomorrow’s agenda. What do you need to eliminate? What do you need to do more of? How can you make tomorrow ‘count’? Days add up to years, years add up to a lifetime. Make your lifetime count. Seize today, cast out the trivial, and major on what is important. Do the right things, not just the easy or convenient.

“Sunrise, sunset … swiftly flow the years … One season following another, laden with happiness and tears” goes the song from Fiddler on the Roof. Whatever you do today, time will pass. But it is what you do, today, that will determine which is greater: the happiness or the tears.

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