Life’s most precious gift...time
By Lt. Col. Mike Murphy, 37th Flying Training Squadron
/ Published April 04, 2007
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
A very wise commander I worked with a while back, whom I respect very much, once told me that time is our most precious asset. The more I though about it, the more I came to agree with him. From the day we come onto this earth, each of us has a set amount of it. It is much more precious than any material possession or monetary wealth. I doubt if anyone on their death bed has ever wished for more money, or more property or more "toys." No, I think the thing most often wished for when that point comes is, more time.
Now that I've framed it that way, you ask where in the world am I going with this. Well, I put it that way for a few reasons. If we honor time and treat it for what it is, a limited resource, we will find that it will affect our lives and the lives of others in a wonderful way. We should be mindful of the time we have, enjoy it and use it to the fullest. One of my favorite lines is from Gandalf from the "Lord of the Rings," ". . .we need only decide what to do with the time that is given to us." What a profound statement! Think about what that means in your life, in your education, in your job, in your career, with your children, with your husband or your wife. How would you do things different each day if you thought it could be your last? I've been a pilot for almost 20 years now and one of the things, and a gift I think, that pilots know about their job is that it is an inherently dangerous one. For that reason, I've come to appreciate the time I have and not take it for granted. I try to use it as wisely as I can. To keep a positive attitude and not let the negative things bring me down. To balance time between work, my family and the time I seek for myself.
Let's take this notion of time into our work environment. Most of us work five days a week and anywhere from eight to 12 hours per day. I'm no expert on the civilian side or on the other groups on the base, but I know that my instructor pilots work 10 to 12 hours a day during the week and sometimes on the weekends, as well, when they go cross country. I consider that they get eight hours of sleep each night. Based on that, they have about four to six hours each day during the week to take for themselves and their families. Oh, by the way, throw in continuing education, physical training, volunteer work, PME, transportation to and from work and you quickly see that time is something they don't have an excess of in their lives.
With that in mind, we should mindful of other people's time. Most of us would never spend another's money needlessly, but for some reason, when it comes to time, we don't mind using it up. In this age of "Lean" and "Doing More with Less", it is a terrible thing to waste another's time. One major example of this would be meetings that run excessively long with no value added by what is being covered. When computers and e-mail came into existence, they were supposed to make us more efficient. Yet we still attend meetings covering a large portion of the information that could be relayed by these other means in a much more effective manner.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that we should give up on meetings, because there is definitely value added with face to face discussions. However, each person has a schedule for that day. They all have things related to the mission that need to be done and have been planned whether its flying a mission, doing a report, attending another meeting, or whatever. A meeting that runs over will trickle throughout the day and somewhere down the line, time will get shorted for something else. If you have a meeting that is scheduled for an hour, try to get it done in 45 minutes or less. Give something back when you can, something that is very, very precious to the people who are there. Give them back their time.