Too Busy for Opportunity

It may be true or just perception, but the 21st century seems to find people busier than ever.  Human civilization has never known so many choices for passing the time.  Naturally we’ve responded by cramming an extraordinary amount of stuff onto our calendar, which some find pleasing and others find disturbing.

“If you observe a really happy man, you will find… that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours each day.” — W. Beran Wolfe

“Time is that quality of nature which keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn’t seem to be working.” — Anonymous

One of the consequences of our bounty is that we have become experts at using our hectic lives as a shield against change.   “This week is bad for me.”  “I’m swamped.”  “We’re having a minor crisis at work.”

“There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” — Henry Kissinger (1923- )

“A schedule defends from chaos and whim.” — Annie Dillard

Ah yes, little white lies!  That’s what the “lack of time excuse” is.  The truth is, people can always find time to do what matters most. (Remember the parable of the mayonnaise jar.)  So it’s hard to understand why anyone would use this type of worn out excuse, especially in response to an opportunity.  For example, I imagine being offered the chance to play golf with Tiger Woods at Augusta National.  Do I jump at it?  On the surface there would appear to be plenty of reasons not to.   “The timing is bad.”  “I can’t possibly get away from work.”  One thing I do know, if I ever passed up an opportunity this big because of a phony issue with my calendar, my golf buddies would smack me silly.

“Calendars are for careful people, not passionate ones.” — Chuck Sigars, The World According to Chuck weblog, September 8, 2003

The idea of bad timing is totally misunderstood.  People tend to think timing is all about their own situation, when it’s really about the timing of the opportunity.  To capitalize on opportunities, we must understand that we all have some measure of control over our own schedules.  If something is important enough, it is almost always possible to rearrange the calendar for an opportunity.  On the other hand, we have much less control over opportunities, which come and go with or without our prior permission.  Instead of taking bold action, people rationalize that the opportunity requires an empty calendar.  Think of any missed opportunity and see if you can find yourself anywhere in the following depiction:

September:  “I have so much on my plate right now.  The kids just started school and it’s soccer season.  Let’s wait until things settle down.”

October:  “I think Junior’s team is going to make the play-offs.  Can we please wait until those are over in November?”

November:  “I wrecked my car.  As soon as I get that taken care of we’ll talk.”

Two weeks later:  “I’m almost ready.  How about right after Thanksgiving?”

December:  “I forgot about how busy the holidays are.  For sure, first of the year.”

January:  “Lot’s of flu going around.  Call me back when we’re all healthy.”

Three weeks later:  “Can you believe all the snow we’ve had?  I really hate driving in bad weather.  I need to wait until it warms up.”

March:  “You know, Spring Break is almost here and we are taking the family to DisneyWorld. Call me when I return.”

April:  “Sorry, its tax time and I’m swamped at work.  Hopefully next month will be better.”

May:  “Just too many irons in the fire right now.  I’m coordinating the family reunion for Memorial Day weekend.  June for sure, I promise.”

June:  “Well, I know it’s time to get going, but there are a bunch of weddings and graduations on the calendar.  Please be patient just a little bit longer.”

Two weeks later:  “You can’t expect me to start with July the 4th right around the corner.  The rest of July looks wide open.”

July 5th:  “Did I really say that?  I guess I forgot about my two-week vacation and there’s so much to get done before then.”

August: “I’ve absolutely got to get caught up on the yard work and house repairs.  I couldn’t possibly take on something new right now.  Let’s wait until those chores are out of the way.”

September (again):  “I have so much on my plate right now.  The kids just started school and it’s soccer season.  Let’s wait until things settle down later this fall.”

If you always wait for every traffic light to turn green before starting something, you will NEVER start anything.  Go out on a limb – that’s where the fruit is!

God bless,

— CC