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Time is money? Time is fuel!

We’ve all heard the adage ‘time is money’ – but it doesn’t make sense to me. Money is something we can get more of, it is something we can lose, it is a variable. Time is a constant…I can guarantee you that you will have 24 hours tomorrow; and how you spend them is up to you. In fact, I can also guarantee you 365 days in 2018; and how you spend them will be up to you.

In aviation time is fuel (or perhaps more accurately fuel is time…but ‘time is fuel’ sounds better to me). A full tank of aviation fuel on a Chinook helicopter would give me c.2½ hours of flying time to work with…I had to make sure that what I did in those 2½ hours achieved the mission. If I needed longer, I needed more fuel…so I had to plan for this. When airborne it was imperative that fuel was monitored: failure to do so would end catastrophically…as has been the case on too many occasions. Anyone who has seen the film Dunkirk will recognise this as Tom Hardy’s character ended up drifting his fuel starved Spitfire onto the beach. You’d think this could not be possible in this day and age with smart monitoring, warning systems and high-level training for aircrew. But failure to pay attention to fuel still happens; and it has tragic consequences http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-38178673

In life and business it is the same. Time is fuel. Perceptibly there is never enough time, it is compressed and it is managed really badly…with the consequence that everyone is ‘busy’. I want to challenge this. In my experience great leaders make capacity (time) and what they do with this capacity defines them. My favourite is they think differently about their circumstances and then change them. In fact, great leaders ‘make time’ for the important things…relationships, networks, results, performance and so on. As I mentioned earlier, I can guarantee how much time you will have tomorrow and next year; and as a leader your mission is to make sure you manage it exquisitely so that you don’t run out of it, you don’t crash and you do achieve the mission. In fact, I’d encourage you to be so brilliant at this that you always have a little left over for a fly by at the end of the sortie…because it’s fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdHBsWXaHN8…who hasn’t wanted to do this?

We have to pay for fuel and that makes us think about how we use it. Time is fuel. You get a finite amount. Is this simply an exercise in prioritization…or a change in mindset? In 2018 stop doing the unproductive things, certainly stop wasting time and start managing it in a way that gets your mission accomplished. Here’s a quick exercise: imagine your diary for tomorrow (or your next working day) was wiped clean. What are the 3 things you would really want to do with that time? Now look at what you have got planned and see if they match. If not, what can you take responsibility for…without making excuses or blaming other people…to start making your time serve you?