Leaders: Please Don’t Waste my Time

By | August 3, 2019

[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.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “Leaders: Please Don’t Waste my Time

  1. Kenny Foster

    Yes, I agree. I’ve had too many leaders waste my time. While it might be due to an uncontrolled reason, most of the time it was due to just plain laziness.

    1. AutisticTechie

      Some of my bosses did it to just harass us. Why they would do such a thing is beyond my imagination unless they are doing it because they are showing who is in charge. Yeah! Like we don’t already know.

  2. Mike Baker

    Great article. I recommend it to everyone. Well written and to the point.

  3. Greg Heyman

    You made my Saturday morning wakeup worth the time to log on. Gen Satterfield, if you would write more articles on those things that make us better people (and leaders at the same time), I would be very appreciative as I’m sure others would be.

  4. Lynn Pitts

    If I only had a nickel for every time some leader, teacher, or family member wasted my time. In nearly all cases, I just grin and bear it. No need to whine or complain; it usually does nothing but makes the other person leary of you. So, learn from it and if you get the chance, tell them about it in private.

    1. Albert Ayer

      Good advice, Lynn. I had a boss once that always made us wait for a meeting (he was usually 10 minutes late) and we were busy folks. One day, his chief of staff told us to show up exactly 20 minutes late. The idea being to teach him a lesson. Well, it didn’t work out as planned. But he did learn we were not pleased.

      1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

        I’m sure there are thousands of stories like this. The best leaders learn from it and promise themselves that they will never do it to others. That’s what great leadership is about.

  5. Eric Coda

    Bruce Lee was one of my favorite actors when I was growing up. I didn’t realize he was also a little bit of a philosopher too.

  6. Georgie M.

    This is why I keep coming back to this leadership blog. I’ve been one of the original fans of Gen. Satterfield’s sage writings and recommend the site to all my family and friends. Over time, I’ve seen him get more philosophical but remain grounded. Thanks for your time you spend freely giving us great info to live by.

    1. Billy Kenningston

      Same here with me, Georgie. I too have been here and never been disappointed. Thanks.

  7. José Luis Rodriguez

    Enjoyed today’s article that gave some very practical advice. Ancient advice is often the best.

  8. Gil Johnson

    The old ways should never be discarded for they are an accumulation of wisdom that has been vetted by thousands of years of human experience. Anyone who rejects these 3 you’ve listed (never lie, waste time, or properly orient yourself) will regret such a decision.

    1. JT Patterson

      Gil, you are right about this and so many of the college ‘snowflakes’ that think they are morally superior to us all (and are a wannabe dictator in training) are doomed to a life of great disappointment and tragedy. I don’t however feel sorry for them.

      1. Willie Shrumburger

        Let’s not overlook the fact that JT brings up. There is a substantial number of people in the USA who think they are morally superior. This is VERY DANGEROUS. These are the kinds of people who never had a problem growing up, protected by their helicopter parents. I pray they never get into any position of power. Gil, you’re right, “wannabe dictators.”

      1. Gil Johnson

        Thank you, sir. I appreciate your support.

      2. Ed Berkmeister

        An exceptional point that is made here. We should all listen.

  9. Walter H.

    I’m really liking your website. This is the kind of useful info I can share with others, like my kids. They are distracted and these are some concrete ways for them to focus and live a better life.

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