Everyone gets 24 hours

We all have plans, goals, things to do, and many of us whine the same shallow complaint.

“But… But… I just don’t have time.

Let’s look at that clock again. All clocks dutifully report the same 24 hours of time in each day. It doesn’t matter if the timepiece is on your wrist, my iPhone, or hanging on someone’s wall.

Join me on a little guilt trip down Tick Tock Lane. I promise not to steal much of your time.

  • Albert Einstein had 24 hours in a day. He was a professor of physics at Princeton University who published more than 300 scientific papers, more than 150 non-scientific articles, and revolutionized physics when he discovered the theory of general relativity.
  • Inventor Thomas Edison had 24 hours in a day. Among the 1,093 patents he held were inventions including the light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera.
  • Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had 24 hours in a day. He wrote more than 600 known musical compositions for symphony, piano, opera, chamber music, and chorus before he died just before turning 36.
  • Author Stephen King has 24 hours in a day. He has written at least 49 books that have been purchased by more than 350 million fans. He continues to write every day.
  • Actor/director/producer Robert DeNiro has 24 hours in a day. He has acted in more than 60 films and helped to produce more than 30 films. He has been nominated for an Academy Award six times and won twice. He also established the Tribecca Film Festival, owns a hotel and a several restaurants.

These are just a few people from vastly different fields and eras who had the same amount of time as you and me. The list could be virtually endless.

Seriously, consider the schedule of the president of the United States. Think about all of the prolific actors/writers/composers you love. What if they stayed on the couch eating the last of the potato chips and whining about not having enough time instead of getting up and catching their dreams?

How do you use your 24 hours?

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Managers vs Leaders

Lead from where you are

Fancy titles and expensive business cards don’t make you a leader and you don’t have to be anyone’s boss to be their leader. Everyone has the capacity for leadership and anyone can be a leader regardless of their role.

Constant use has muddled the meaning of the word leadership. True leaders are overlooked because they often are not the ones in charge even when they should be. Leaders are not glory hounds.

Leadership is similar to respect. Leadership isn’t bestowed on a person when they get a title, a nice parking spot, and a fancy nameplate on the door. Just because someone is the CEO, the superintendent, the chairman, the Grand Poobah, it doesn’t mean they know how to lead.

What is a leader?

Good managers are not necessarily leaders, though leaders are usually good managers. Author Seth Godin says managers want the same thing today as they got yesterday, only faster and cheaper. More widgets. Higher yield. Increasing the bottom line.

Some managers are little more than taskmasters who are good at cracking the whip and keeping the worker bees in line. Leaders provide support and resources to help people reach their goals. Where managers might ask, “What else can you do for me?” leaders ask, “What else can I do for you?”

Managers dole out task lists, fret over process and details, and micromanage every step of a job. Leaders understand everyone is different and appreciate the diverse talents each individual brings to a project. A leader asks you to set a goal and steps out of the way, then provides the support and resources you need to reach the goal in your own way.

To summarize, managers are rigid where leaders are flexible. Managers are by the book. Leaders understand it’s OK to bend the rules sometimes and even to break them if necessary.

Leaders have a different way of assessing their environment, their project, the task at hand. A leader seeks ways to help everyone on the team achieve at higher levels. Leaders look for new ways to reach beyond their goals.

Leaders don’t ask for permission, they ask for forgiveness. That doesn’t mean they are looking for creative ways to get into trouble, but that they constantly strive to overcome the status quo and find greatness in others as well as themselves.

If you dread it when The Boss visits, then you probably work for a bad manager (or worse); however, if your boss’s visits provoke honest discussion helping you find new ways of thinking–you feel better after they leave–then she is probably a leader.

Leaders don’t care about titles

It’s worth ending where we began. Fancy titles and expensive business cards don’t make you a leader and you don’t have to be anyone’s boss to be their leader. Everyone has the capacity for leadership and anyone can be a leader regardless of their role.