“Mr. Meant-To has a comrade, And his name is Didn’t-Do; Have you ever chanced to meet them? Did they ever call on you? These two fellows live together In the house of Never-Win, And I’m told that it is haunted By the ghost of Might-Have-Been.” — William J. Bennett, The Book of Virtues
A recurring nightmare haunted Peter to re-examine and change the aimless and drifting course of his life. In his bad dream, he was standing before a severe judge and disapproving jury.” You are charged with wasting your life,” the judge bellowed harshly down to Peter standing before the high bench. “How do you plead?” Restraining himself from fleeing the courtroom, Peter was finally forced to whisper, “Guilty.” He appeared ready to say more, then stood lost in thought.
The clock ticked steadily on the courthouse wall. “I always had the best of intentions,” Peter began slowly. “I just never got around to translating them into action. There was always tomorrow. But tomorrow never came and the world went speeding by. I ran out of time. I guess, after all is said and done, a lot has been said, but only a little has been done.”
Looking back, we can all point to times in our lives that seem wasted. In some cases, those times were a pause in the action. Perhaps it was time to regroup and take a different course, or rest before trying again. The danger is if the time-out turns into just putting in time. If we fail to continuously grow, change, and develop, then precious life is wasted. The American writer and publisher, Elbert Hubbard, warned, “The recipe for perpetual ignorance is to be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.”
The unknown author of this poem stresses the importance of using our time well:
Imagine there is a bank that
Credits your account each morning with $86,400.
It carries over no balance from day to day.
Every evening it deletes whatever part of the balance
You failed to use during the day.
What would you do?
Draw out every cent, of course!
Each of us has such a bank.
Its name is TIME.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you
Have failed to invest to good purpose.
It carries over no balance.
It allows no overdraft.
Each day it opens a new account for you.
Each night it burns the day’s deposits; the loss is yours.
There is no going back.
There is no drawing against the “tomorrow.”
You must live in the present on today’s deposits.
Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health,
Happiness, and success!
The clock is running.
Make the most of today.
Treasure every moment that you have!
And remember that time waits for no one.
Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
Today is a gift.
That’s why it’s called, “the present.”
Success isn’t how far we’ve got, but the distance we’ve traveled from where we started.
Jim Clemmer’s practical leadership & personal growth books, workshops, and team retreats have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide improve personal, team, and organizational performance. Jim’s web site, JimClemmer.com, has over 300 articles and dozens of video clips covering a broad range of topics on change, organization improvement, self-leadership, and leading others. Sign-up to receive Jim’s popular monthly newsletter, and follow his leadership blog. Jim’s international best-sellers include The VIP Strategy, Firing on All Cylinders, Pathways to Performance, Growing the Distance, The Leader’s Digest and Moose on the Table. His latest book is Growing @ the Speed of Change.