If a sports team was getting ready to play an undefeated perennial powerhouse, you would expect to see a heightened level of focus in their preparation for that opponent.
They would bump up their effort because they have a greater respect for that opponent than most of their other opponents. Right or wrong, that’s typically the way it is. Players know that a mediocre effort against that kind of opponent will not yield a successful result. The situation demands their best.
As humans, we face a similar situation every day of our lives. The opponent? Time.
Time is undefeated. You cannot slow it down. You cannot derail it. And you certainly cannot stop it. It just keeps moving forward.
Time is U-N-D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D.
Good teammates understand this concept.
They don’t accept tardiness. In fact, many of them operate on “Lombardi Time” (If you’re 10 minutes early, you’re 5 minutes late.)
Sometimes we struggle to get our family out the door in the morning. I suspect most families with small children can relate to this.
Everybody has their own pace and their own priorities. Chaos ensues. And getting out the door on time becomes an exercise in futility.
The Loya household has recently adopted a phrase we speak to each other to help us refocus our efforts and curb the chaos: RESPECT TIME.
This is exactly what good teammates do. They respect time. They respect it the same way they respect an undefeated opponent.
Here are three ways you can respect time:
1. Plan. Having a plan in place for how you intend to spend your time allows you to be more efficient and minimizes the amount of time you are likely to waste deciding what to do next.
I am a list maker. I like to make “To Do” lists before I go to bed at night. I separate my lists into two categories—standards and goals. Standards are all the things that I need to accomplish that day. This may include things like going to the bank, returning one of my client’s calls, or going to a doctor’s appointment.
If I fail to complete an item from my standards category, there are consequences. Sometimes those consequences can be severe.
Goals are things that I want to accomplish that day. Writing two chapters of my next book, cleaning out the garage, or reorganizing my files would fall under this heading.
If I fail to complete an item from the goals category, I just reevaluate it and decide if it should be added to the list again tomorrow.
Incidentally, I used to compose my list before I went to bed at night so I could maximize my efficiency and hit the ground running the next morning. But that is not the only reason I do it this way anymore.
I have learned that letting something marinate overnight can lead me to rethink the necessity of that item and move it in the morning from the standards category to the goals category, or remove it from the list entirely.
2. Practice awareness. This is an increasingly important skill for a person to have. With so much evolving technology at our fingertips, it is easy to get lost in our own world and forget that the universe doesn’t really revolve around the needs of our life.
I have friends who often suggest we go to the cinema to see a movie, but become frustrated to learn that the movie isn’t playing at a time that is convenient for them.
Movie start times are already set. If you are heading out for an evening that includes a trip to the cinema, then you have to be aware of the start times and plan your other activities (dinner, shopping, drinks, etc.) around the start times.
I have another friend who struggles with being aware of how long it takes to do something. Driving from Point A to Point B takes 30 minutes. If your Point B meeting starts at 9:00 AM, you can’t leave Point A at 8:40 AM and expect to be on time. You need to make an effort to be more aware of how much time is required for your daily tasks.
3. Adapt and/or Manipulate. Similar to the previous point about awareness, you must be willing to alter your plans. For instance, if you need to be out the door at 9:00 AM, and it normally takes you an hour to get ready, then you need to start your morning routine at 8:00 AM.
However, if your alarm clock goes off late or an unexpected phone call causes you to not be able to start getting ready until 8:15 am, then you need to either adapt your normal routine or manipulate it.
You either change the pace at which you normally move through your routine, or you eliminate a component from it. Either way, 15 minutes must be made up, or you will be late.
The length of your shower might need to be shortened. The speed at which you walk down the hallway may no longer be able to be a leisurely stroll.
If you can’t change the pace and condense, then you must eliminate something that you typically do during your routine.
You may not be able to have your normal relaxing cup of coffee before you get in the shower. Or, you may not even be able to get a shower.
It is surprising how many people are unable to make these kinds of alterations and consequently find themselves to be habitually at the mercy of time.
Good teammates respect time, because they respect honesty and trustworthiness. They would never steal. Showing up late for a team function, or even showing up unprepared, is stealing the team’s most valuable possession—time.
As always, remember: Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.