I’m a big fan of Joseph Campbell. Campbell reviewed religions and mythologies around the world to identify the common stories we tell to better understand ourselves and our place in the cosmos. One point that Campbell made regarding Buddhism has stuck with me for many years. It’s the concept that every moment of time contains eternity, which for me means that every second contains a rich multitude of possibilities during which anything can be accomplished.
Time is not something you have, because it’s an artificial construct. Conversely, you can’t lose time, because you didn’t have it to begin with. What you do have (if fact, the only thing you really have) is energy. If you remember your high school physics, there is potential energy (energy which has been stored) and kinetic energy (energy which is released). Life is about storing and releasing energy. Success is about releasing that energy in a positive direction. When I hear people say, “I don’t have enough time,” what they are actually saying is “I don’t have enough energy.” The energy they expend is unfocused and dissipated, and the energy they store is compromised and low-grade, clouded by beliefs and other mental baggage.
I don’t think anyone working today would say they aren’t working hard. But even in today’s economy, there are some who are successful and there are some who are not. Some of those who are not successful are pedaling fast on a stationary bike. They’re sweating and puffing and grimacing and they’re not going anywhere. The results are flat, if not falling. Their first response to how to change things is to pedal faster. So they huff and puff even harder and end up right where they were. Their next response to how to change things then becomes, “let’s hire more people.” Unfortunately, what you usually end up with then is more people pedaling fast on more stationary bikes. A lot of work. A lot of people. Going nowhere. Every so often the response becomes, “Let’s Reorganize!” Let’s move the stationary bikes around and put the people back on them. You know the result.
As individuals, many of us are also stuck to our own mental stationary bikes. We feel squeezed out of ourselves, that time and chores have taken over our lives. So we focus on time management so that we can get more accomplished on our stationary bikes.
Those who are successful have a focused energy, and energy built around two simple questions: “Where do I want to go?” and “Who do I want to be along the way?” Their kinetic energy is solely expressed in trying to address those questions. And their potential energy is created through a continual feedback loop of reflecting, acting, listening, reflecting….
If you want to grow, you need to get off your stationary, focus your energies around passions and the interaction you have with world around you. You don’t have time. You have energy. Make the most of it.