[August 3, 2019] Several of my peers, U.S. Infantry Commanders, were sitting in a Fort Benning, Georgia lecture hall to hear secret information on recent Soviet main battle tank improvements. The speaker, a full Colonel of Intelligence, was over 45 minutes late and when he showed, he fumbled his notes and joked about the traffic in our sleepy town of Columbus. These delays sparked anger in my best friend who blurted out, please don’t waste my time”
Knowing full well that you don’t speak rudely to a U.S. military Colonel, we all mumbled loudly enough that the message became clear about our lack of patience. As military leaders, we are often reminded not to waste the time of our superiors or of those who work for or depend upon us. We have important things to do (at least in our minds we did) and the Colonel’s obliviousness to that was an unforgivable sin, of sorts.
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee, a famous Chinese actor, director, martial artist
A theme in the philosophical literature that goes back as far as 2,000 years is that there are only a few secrets to fulfillment as a human being. Their thinking, revealed through storytelling, has been captured in ancient scrolls, stone carvings, and clay tablets. The kernel of their wisdom is as follows:
At one time or another, I’ve tackled all three of these, so-called secrets here at my website. I plan to keep doing it. Such a message has been well received and, often, I’m asked to write more on these topics by some of my regular readers who have taken the time to comment. I’ve been surprised at the attention they give these articles but humbled by what they had to say.
The world is a tough place. Whether its nature, people, or happenstance, it seems like we are aggressively being continuously challenged to show what we’re made of. And, our lives are short. That’s why our time is precious and so we should make the best of it. When someone wastes our time, we naturally push back. My friend didn’t consider what he did to be wrong when he was rude to the Colonel of Intelligence. We all got a big laugh out of it later.
The lesson for all leaders is to take great care with all those we come into contact. They deserve our very best preparation for any mission or task we give them so as to not waste their time. You will be respected and appreciated for this work attitude.