February 10, 2019

The sands of time

“Did you hear that, Aunt Sheila?

Did you hear it, in the night?
I swear I could hear someone shuffling around outside the house.”

She chuckled.
“Honey, that’s just the hermit crabs, dragging their shells around in the cool of the night.
Remember, with the island covered in sand, we’re just a few yards from the beach as far as they’re concerned.”

I have to be honest; for the first two nights I had been scared.
These houses were vulnerable to intruders of every kind.
Everything seemed to be left open on this part of Grand Cayman.

I was a naive 28-year old; albeit full of my own intelligence.
Visiting these relatives, a turbo-prop flight from Jamaica, was an unforgettable holiday.
I met aunts and uncles who seemed to me unnaturally wise, quite apart from being more widely educated (and obviously financially more comfortable) than me.

Aunt Sheila mentioned to me that she was thinking of taking another degree.
This, she reasoned, would help improve her opportunity of gaining a more senior teaching position in the Caribbean.
I can’t recall exactly how old she was. but certainly, to a rather self-absorbed young man, even mid-40’s looked pretty ancient.

My response to her passing comment was “But, Auntie… you’ll be (let’s say) 48  years old by the time you get that degree!”

With a withering look and a patient smile, she responded,
“Young David,” and she paused. “I’ll be 48 years old anyway. Why not be that age, with more knowledge, understanding and a degree in a sought-after subject?”

That shut me up.

Too often, we take a course of business which satisfies and gratifies us for this month, this quarter, this year.
The end-of-tax-year panic is a classic example of such knee-jerk behaviour.

We fail to sit back, see where a market is moving…
And take a longer term view about where our skills need to be, if we’re to be both relevant and in demand.

Rather than worry about the passage of time…
why not concern yourself with the measurably different impact you, your team your business could have on the world?

The impact that results when you go beyond another technical qualification.
The impact of learning how to lead better, serve clients better, make a greater difference.

Steve Jobs expressed it this way, when talking to Pepsi executive John Sculley:
“Do you want to sell sugared water all your life?
Or do you want to come with me and change the world?”

Changing the world might require more investment of your time than winning a couple more clients today.
But wouldn’t you like to create a tomorrow that will leave others amazed for years to come?