Do you realize that one of the most precious resources we have is our time? According to the Wall Street Journal’s book On Management: The Best of the Manager’s Journal, the most important aspect of being a role model and leader is how we handle our own personal time. The book described the importance of gathering information and its influence on decision-making, and states that we must consider seriously the impact of our own work habits on those around us.
In order to manage time effectively, we must be able to prioritize our activities on a daily basis. One of the keys to time management is the quality of endurance. In most athletic competition, it is not always the most talented player who wins, but the one who’s the best at the finish line. As expressed in the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 9, “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.” And the well-known American actress Helen Hayes once said, “Nothing is any good without endurance.”
These statements seem to emphasize diligence and perseverance. The ability to endure is an important ingredient in realizing personal success, in business as well as in other areas of our lives. Often, we resolve to exercise regularly, lose weight, spend more time with our family, or eat more nutritiously. The commitment, however, is often forgotten because, over the long haul, we may fail to demonstrate the endurance needed to reach our goal.
There are so many avenues of opportunity where we can develop our own unique talents and abilities. Whether it’s a career in the arts, sports, business, or the professions, the way to perfect our skills is through diligent practice and study on a consistent basis. This means making the commitment to develop our self-discipline and to persist and endure until the goal is met. This commitment to “finish the race” may not always be easy. There are often occasions when we may be tempted to spend valuable time pursuing those interests that give pleasure while neglecting our long-range priorities.
The ancient Chinese sage Lao Tzu set down laws of effective living that he discovered after years of meditation and careful observation of the evidences of life around him. He called his invaluable teaching the Tao Te Ching, or How Things Work. Many of his teachings reflected the effects of diligence and perseverance. One meaningful example is described in “The Ripple Effect” from the Tao:
“Do you want to be a positive influence in the world? First, get your own life in order. Ground yourself in the single principle so that your behavior is wholesome and effective. If you do that, you will earn respect and be a powerful influence.
“Your behavior influences others through a ripple effect. A ripple effect works because everyone influences everyone else. Powerful people are powerful influences. If your life works, you influence your family. If your family works, your family influences the community. If your community works, your community influences the nation. If your nation works, your nation influences the world. If your world works, the ripple effect spreads throughout the cosmos. Remember that your influence begins with you and ripples outward. So be sure that your influence is both potent and wholesome. How do I know that this works? All growth spreads outward from a fertile and potent nucleus. You are a nucleus.”
Doesn’t this “bigger picture” offer inspiration for diligence and perseverance! In order to realize the wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes with meeting our goals, the ability to endure hardship is essential. The statement “No one ever said it would be easy” is no less true for being a familiar saying. So, hang in there! Don’t give up easily! You have the ability to make striking progress in the pursuit of your goals. If we truly want to be all we are capable of being, we must be committed, and we must prepare ourselves to endure—to be a strong finisher in the race of life.