05 Sep The “Right” Time
I grew up with the idea that there existed a “right time.” And that time was never “right now.”
In high school, I couldn’t wait for college and a new beginning. Once in college, I was focused on life after college. I had this dream of being the next Jerry Maguire. I was going to take over the sports representation world, dominate the competition, and set new standards. After moving careers into marketing consulting, I was never content. I spent my days focused on future projects and something …bigger.“ The tasks at hand were great, but I had this itch that something bigger and better was out there, waiting for me to create it. The last two years I’ve spent trying to grow Compete Every Day because I believe it’s an opportunity I’ve been blessed with and one I cannot afford to waste. From day one, it’s been something I’ve seen that can leave a lasting impact beyond my short life on earth. As funny as it sounds, I genuinely fear failure with it because I feel compelled to prove to myself that I can do it and to God that He didn’t waste this opportunity on me. It’s foolish when you speak aloud – especially if you consider the truth in Romans 8:38 – but it’s a battle I struggle with and I’m sure that other business owners can relate to.
No matter the project, my attention would shift to days, weeks, even years ahead – forgetting the current world around me. I had plans to build a career, get everything in my life …in order,“ and then I’d worry about a family, some …down time, and all that came with it. I always said it would come sometime after I turned thirty – and not a day before. I didn’t have time to waste until then, so work became my passion, and I poured more of myself into it every day.
What I failed to realize all of this time was that I was creating habits and reinforcing behavior can’t simply be turned …off“ when I’m ready. In sports, business, and life, there’s no such thing as an …overnight success.“ In personal growth, there’s no complete change in the snap of fingers. You can’t develop and reinforce habits day and day and expect to suddenly turn them off. Your body becomes programmed differently. You essentially have to reprogram your very being. So at the precipice of thirty, I look back on my life and have come to one very strong conclusion:
There’s never a “right time.” It’s about as real as an unicorn.
My obsession with creating this perfect utopia of work, life, and relationships is the equivalent of chasing an elusive pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It simply doesn’t exist. This has initiated internal turmoil for some time. I honestly didn’t have time to dwell on things and reflect â€“ there was work at hand and in my own belief, it couldn’t wait. I wonder if this is something every business owner goes through in their career. Business doesn’t take off like it needs to, there’s a dip in profits, or something just isn’t quite right and not knowing the …what“ consumes you. It literally eats you alive. We pour more hours, more time, more soul – more everything â€“ into our company to almost force its growth. Sometimes it works. Most times, it ends up draining us. It becomes the obsession we lie awake at night stressing over. The source of our joys & pains. The idol that controls us.
And while we pursue this goal for …tomorrow,“ our world around us takes a hit.
I’ll preface this with the following: I do fully believe we were put on this earth to work. I believe our entire being is made to work this earth and ultimately point back to Him. Work was never intended to be easy. It’s a long, difficult process, no matter what business you get into. But I think the problem that happens all too often, and one I personally battle, is when we elevate our work to the level of idolatry, allowing it to consume us as a mini …god.“ And that is a god that can never satisfy the thirst for more. It is an endless pursuit of avarice. What should be a quest to glorify becomes an endless pursuit of personal glory. In the process, mind, body, & spirit suffer.
…Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be“ – Matthew 6:21
My mind has been constantly on my business. My mind has sporadically been with God. My mind is rarely in the world around me. Even when I’m with friends or family, my mind is continually racing on how to improve business. “What can I do differently?”, “What am I doing wrong?” “Why isn’t this working??” The only times I zone out are when I’m doing working out. It’s the rare instance I can turn all focus inward, go …into a mental hole,“ and just get through the workout at hand. My workouts have never been better. My business continues to grow every day. But I feel many of my personal relationships have suffered. And at the end of the day, when we look back on our lives, won’t it be the memories and our personal relationships that we treasure most?
My treasure had been placed in the very blessing bestowed upon me instead of staying with the One who blessed me. The effects of which have been in some cases, permanently damaging. I’ve honestly fooled myself into believing that if I put enough into work now, that it would taper off and I could finally have that elusive “right time” when things would suddenly be balanced. I failed to understand that in order to have balance, you have to force it. As a very wise friend shared, you have to consciously prioritize God, family, and then work. Make those priorities your habit every day, in every decision, and with every action. You can’t just find balance, you have to make it happen. And until you choose to make it, you are just reinforcing bad habits that show your work is more important than the God who has blessed you with it and the people who support you.
In hindsight over the past few years, I always felt I had to choose between work and people in many cases. But honestly, how many blog posts, email responses, tweets would have still been there tomorrow morning if I had simply taken the time to close the laptop? I am not foolish enough to believe that there will always be smooth sailings. I understand that owning any business creates peaks and valleys. I understand there will be days and weeks you will be working from sun up to sundown, and running 500mph. I’ve had a great share of those already. There will be nights when you have to take that email. That phone call. That trip. Yet, I had made things a daily habit and became so dialed into always being “on” with work, that I was slowly losing sight of more important things – people. It’s ok to take a day off and unplug. Something it’s taken years for me to find come to grips with and even now it’s something I almost instinctively want to fight.
Recently, two friends shared some thoughts that have really hit home:
God created six days and rested on the seventh. It wasn’t that He was tired. It was that he was setting aside a day for rest, to remain holy. Who are we to say …No, I don’t need a Sabbath.“?
When you understand what your priorities are, and you make the commitment to stick to them, you will find that that project, email, tweet, will still be there later in the day or tomorrow, and the world won’t end if you don’t respond right that second.
Both statements have forced me to face myself and realize what I’d grown into. Someone idolizing a business for its potential instead of a man humbled that God has given me an opportunity.
I talk every day about competing every day, taking the day for what it is, and seizing it. Carpe diem. I wake up to news every day about the tragedies in the world around me, a solemn reminder that one day will end up being my last. Why wouldn’t I want to make every one count until that time comes?
In business and in life, it’s time to realize that the “right time” can take a back seat to “right now.”