Respecting Others, Part I: Time

We all deserve respect. Sometimes giving it’s easy. And sometimes it takes a bit of self control. But, often it’s more complicated. You don’t have to be downright mean to disrespect others. Frequently we do it without even knowing. This is the first blog in a series of three, written to uncover often overlooked acts of disrespect.

‍‍‍So where do we begin? With time. Time is one of the only resources you can’t earn or buy more of. (And if you follow our blog you’ve probably already realized we’re seriously obsessed with it.) There are only 24 hours in a day, and if you want to maximize them you’ve got to spend them well. This is particularly difficult to do if those around you are spending them for you. Here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • The Yapper. Years ago, I worked next to a kindhearted woman who, unfortunately for her, happened to be a great listener. You see, her listening skills attracted frequent and unsolicited conversation from me, and her kindheartedness prevented her from telling me to, well, shut it. But thanks to my newfound mindfulness habit (I owe you one Headspace), I’m now self-aware enough to realize I was spending her time without her consent. It’s funny really. I regularly saw her rushing around at the end of the day trying to cram two hours of work into 20 minutes, yet I felt no responsibility for her stress. I wasn’t malicious, but I was oblivious.
  • The Flake. I have a few people in my life who are non-essentialists and as a result are perpetually tardy. This would be fine if they operated in a vacuum. But they don’t, and their tardiness frequently leaves me scrambling so that I don’t do the same to someone else. These non-essentialists are not only spending their time poorly, they’re spending mine poorly without my consent. Time is money, and time is experience. I regularly leverage my time to provide both material and experiential possessions to my family, therefore my time is very valuable to me.
  • The Over-committer. We all periodically run into people who struggle with overcommitment. You know the ones. The every day is a “yes day” person. For these over-committers saying yes is easy, but scheduling all of the yeses isn’t. They’re chronically double and triple-booking themselves. Sadly, the people closest to the over-committer are the ones left holding the proverbial check, and the only accepted form of payment, is their time.

When we spend someone else’s time without their consent, it’s a subtle and socially tolerated form of theft. We don’t go around stealing money or possessions from others, yet we feel justified in stealing the time they use to procure their money and possessions. Many of us have been unaware of the way we’re disrespecting those around us. But now we know, and according to an animated G.I. by the name of Joe, “Knowing is half the battle.” And, the other half is…stop stealing people’s time!

You Don’t Want to Be The Best

I know that you say you want to be, but you don’t know what you’re saying.

If you’re the best, well, then that’s all you have to look forward to. You can only hope to maintain your status. And if your focus is your status, you can’t really expect to grow because you’re always going to be diminishing, stifling, or downright fighting the efforts of others. But you won’t last long. Self-preservation can’t compete with the hunger of those that want to get better. You only delay the inevitable.

Because there is no top. There is no ceiling. Only an expansive universe that beckons us to keep going higher. If the thought of not being the smartest one in the room, the top performer in your field, or even the coolest of all of your friends bothers you, then you are going to be the limit of your sphere, the ceiling of your universe. You shrink the world. And that’s depressing.

So you don’t really want to be the best. You want to be better. But in order to keep getting better you can’t be afraid to make others better than you. Your true value is known through how you influence positive change in those around you. The real benefit of being better than others is that it affords you the opportunity to do just that, but only if you refuse to settle for position over progress.

Because we are inspired by those better than us. We are reminded that more is possible than we originally thought. A 4-minute mile was seen as impossible until May 6, 1954, when Roger Bannister did it. Now, there have been over 4800 sub-4-minute races. There was a time when doing the splits on the balance beam was considered amazing. Now gymnasts do complex aerial maneuvers on the beam…every day. Getting better is not be about ego; it’s about evolution.

That’s why I’m not discouraged by others being better than me. I’m encouraged that better is possible. If I am afraid to make others better than me, then I am afraid of a better world. The only way to make a better world is to help others get better, and if that means “better than me,” so be it. I am thankful that there are better people, that there are people who can do things I can only dream of, because they inspire me.

Do you want a better you, a better team, a better company, a better world? Invest in expanding the world, in pushing the limits of human achievement. Expand our vision of what is possible by refusing to settle for position over progress. Making others better, making the world better, is far more powerful than being the best. It is motive force.

Best is a period. Best is terminal. But better is a story. Better is eternal. Better is better than best.

So, if you’re a leader, don’t think that only you can inspire your people, or that only you have the answer. If you can get over your need to be the best, and really give yourself to bettering your people, the greatness they can achieve will inspire their peers in a way that you may never be able to. And if you can celebrate that, rather than feel threatened by it, you can be more than the best…you can be good.

There’s No Time to Waste

How many of you just can’t seem to get everything done? It’s not like you’re not doing anything. I mean, you’re doing lots. You’re running from place to place, expending tons of energy, and to the outsider, it looks like you’re getting loads done. But, what do you have to show for it? Well, besides several unfinished tasks, a super stylish frazzled look, and a fractured attention span?

Not much. Here are a few practical tips to help you, actually get stuff done:

  • Recognize time is a limited resource. Unless you’re Hiro Nakamura, you only have 24 hours a day.
  • Keep a rolling task list. Task lists are great for the psyche. Setting small goals and meeting them has been known to help ward off depression (hmm… I smell a future blog). At Greyphin, we use a handy little task management software called, Trello. Check out this sample task list.
  • It’s okay to say no. In fact, it’s great. Prioritize your time. It is yours, after all.
  • Now that you realize your time belongs to you, figure out how you’re spending it. You may have heard your crazy and budget obsessed cousin Clark say, “Give every penny a job.” Well, it’s time you give every minute a job.
  • Be honest. Now that you’re giving every minute a job, be real about the amount of time it will take you to complete each job. For example, you know it’s going to take you longer than 30 minutes to get you and your kids ready for the day. Yet, you still appear perplexed when you roll into work 10 minutes late, everyday. Stop it. You wouldn’t lie to others, so don’t lie to yourself.
  • Estimate better. Make a list of all the stuff you have to do from the moment you wake until you have to be at work. Assign each task a completion time. Add up said time, and then multiply it by your fudge ratio. What’s a fudge ratio? I’m glad you asked. Steve Pavlina, personal growth expert, has created this magical fudge ratio to help people get more done and stress less. According to Steve,

…if you estimate that a certain list of tasks will take 12 hours to complete, but they really take 15 hours, then your fudge ratio is 15/12 = 1.25. This means it took you 25% longer than expected to complete the tasks…My average fudge ratio is about 1.5. This means that whenever I make an off-the-cuff estimate for how long a task will take, on average I’m too optimistic; the task ends up taking about 50% longer than my initial guess.

  • Schedule. Schedule. Schedule. Literally schedule your day. This means put every commitment in your calendar. If you don’t have a calendar, get one. We recommend Google Calendar. Once you have all of your commitments in the calendar, you can use any remaining time slots to take care of the items on your task list. When your time slots are used up, you’re done.
  • Repeat. Sounds tough, right. It’s not as tough as you might think. With technology provided by the many calendar applications on the market, you can set your habitual tasks to repeat.

Anywho, I’d love to stay and chat, but it’s not in my schedule. Cheers and happy scheduling!