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Effective leadership is putting first things first.

Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.

Stephen Covey

Even though it is not politically correct to admit this – we are not actually born equal. Yes, we all have equal rights as human beings. But, some of us are given more education, others more time from parents; still others have more play stations or get to watch more TV or read more books… or have physical advantages such as a talent for running or swimming or playing soccer. We don’t even have the same amount of time allocated to us over our lifetime.

There is only one thing that all of us have to an exactly equal degree. Time, now.

We are all given exactly 24 hours in each day. The same as everyone else. And as the cliché goes, you need to ‘spend’ your time wisely to get the returns you want.

But, did you know that time is truly the greatest illusion of all.

I am sure you have had those experiences where time seems to slow down or speed up arbitrarily – generally to the opposite degree of your desire: the more you enjoy something and wish for time to slow down, the faster it goes. The more you dread something and wish for time to speed up, the slower it goes.

The only true control you have over your time is your ability to experience it fully, now. To be in it with absolute presence and purpose.

Presence is the ability to be here now, fully and completely. To experience the moment in which you find yourself with everything you have.

Purpose is the ability to be clear about what you are doing with each 60 seconds of your minute and to do it with absolute attention and focus until it is completed.

The power of focusing on presence and purpose in order to maximize your use of time is beautifully illustrated if you imagine that your mind is like a computer. Each time you open up a programme it runs in the background and consumes energy from the operating system.

Each time you start a task that is not completed, it whirrs away consuming energy that you would normally be able to fully devote to being present and fulfilling your purpose. And you start a task simply by thinking about what you need to do. You close it down by taking an action that puts it out of your mind and onto a task plan or a completion list.

So you use your sense of purpose to prioritise what to do and your presence to discipline yourself to do it – now, fully, completely.

As Rudyard Kipling has said in his beautiful poem IF:

“If you can fill the unforgiving minute; With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run; Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it”

(c) Anne Fuller-Good

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