The Clock Is Ticking - a Lesson in Time Management
My first visit to the U.S.A.One of seven thousand delegates at the American Society for Training and Development annual conference in Atlanta. It had been an overwhelmingly informative week fast-moving, challenging, and I felt worn out.
I was standing outside the Peachtree Plaza Hotel with about seven other people, none of whom I knew, waiting for transport to the airport. I couldn't wait to get to New York. After working at a very fast pace for a long time, I had scheduled four days of holiday and even though I was feeling weary, I was excited about all the things I had planned to do in New York. Looking around, I noticed that the people waiting for the airport shuttle had also attended the ASTD conference. They looked worn out too. And that’s when I met Eddie.
Eddie was the shuttle driver and his mini-bus was spotless. He reminded me of the Basketball legend, Michael Jordan. He was tall, skinny, and moved with vibrant energy.
“How’re you all doin’?” he asked, looking directly at us and grinning as if he was really enjoying himself. “All for the airport?” he asked while he opened the back of the mini-bus to load the luggage.
He very quickly introduced himself to each person enquiring about our luggage and specific airport terminal. When he got to me he extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Eddie and you are?” “I’m Russ, Eddie”, I said shaking his hand, “Terminal two please and these are my bags”.
“Thanks Russ”. From that moment on, whenever Eddie addressed any of us, (which he did often), he addressed us by name. He proceeded to load our cases taking into account the way they would be offloaded. As he was doing so he grinned at us and said, “Hey, we all have something in common.” I was affected by his open and energetic manner and so I asked, “What Eddie, what do we have in common?” “We all hate carrying this luggage!” A few people laughed. “But let me explain”, he said. “This luggage is a little heavier than it should be. Little, so-called samples of soap or slippers that are provided by the hotel that are just too tempting perhaps?”
“Ha!, got you Bev and you too Arthur,” he offered with a smile to the two people who had decided to examine their shoes rather than maintain eye-contact. By the time we boarded, people were chatting and laughing and the atmosphere was much more alive than it had been. I was amazed. I loved this guy. How did he do it? He was a shuttle driver on a hot afternoon and he was having fun. What energy!
“Well folks, no extra charge and for only a few minutes extra, I could take you past the big stadium they’re building for the Olympic Games. It’s really awesome. Wanna see it?” We all agreed and he became our friendly tour guide.
At one point in the journey, we were held up in some traffic and I took the opportunity to find out more about him. “How do you do it Eddie?”
How do I do what Russ? ”I was still amazed at how he remembered and used everyone’s name. I felt as if we had known one-another for years. “How do you keep so positive, so alive, how do you keep so passionate about everything you do?”
I was sitting behind him and I will never forget the power of his message. He turned around, looked directly into my eyes and said, “This is my life Russ! My life doesn’t start when I get home. My life doesn’t start when I’m back home with my family. It doesn’t start on Friday evening…. Or when the children have left school… Or when I finally achieve some of the goals I’ve been working on.” He lifted his hand and tapped the top of his wrist-watch with two fingers. “The clock is ticking. NOW!”
I don’t really remember the rest of the journey. I sat there enjoying the realisation of wisdom. There I had been, waiting to get to New York so that I could have some fun. Eddie was having fun now, even while he worked. The clock is always ticking. I had been almost oblivious to my surroundings other than those that Eddie had been pointing out. I wasn’t taking the time to live in the present moment.
Thank you Eddie. This is now an integral part of my values and whenever I lose track of it, I clearly see your eyes, locking on mine, “This is my life!” The clock is ticking and now, even after all these years, one of my favourite affirmations which I’ve borrowed from my daughter, is, “You have to have some fun every day!”