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The Value of Time

The Value of Time

May 2015

I currently have a deadline filling my head space! As I look at my ‘to do’ list I am struck with the tension between meeting these ‘noisy’ short term milestones, while maintaining the consistent momentum required of the long term change agenda. Add to this; the speed at which my kids are moving out of my ability to influence them and how quickly the effect of a month of disciplined exercises is lost. The constant in these tensions is time.

I am reminded of a quieter period where the value of time had a big impact on me. Week 7 of our Oz trip found us making the quick transition, with 1 hour drive, from the lush Atherton Tables lands to the barren desert of the Savannah Way.

The little town of Ravenshoe (highest town in Queensland) is from another era with its steam train station, old fashioned milk bar, baker, butcher and not much else except really friendly people up for a chat. Right outside this town, seemingly frozen in time, stands the first windfarm we have come across with very ‘war-of the worlds’ like monoliths filling the beautiful dairy paddocked valley, giving a clear picture that time does not stand still.

30 minutes down the road and Mt Surprise is a world away surrounded by the harsh termite covered land that exemplifies the classic outback image. Here we met Steve, a Herpetologist (a new career option to look up), who became our new most interesting character on the trip. He has worked everywhere remote you can think of and has an amazing hut full of his collection of items from hundreds of small but significant events (milestones) in his life. On their own they matter little but together they create a visual picture of his unique and rich life.

Outside Mt Surprise we visited the Undara Lava Tubes. We walked the rim of a dormant volcano (one of 65 in the national park) then venture into the lava tubes which run for hundreds of kms underground. Their cathedral like size and length is awesome. Standing on the crater rim and looking out around the park you can imagine this volcanic landscape would have been an extreme sight but time has been powerful in its ability to erode these structures to the create the beautiful but subtle landscape before us.

Further along the Savannah Way we visited the towns of George Town, then Croydon, and finally Normanton. All gold rush boom towns, which grew massively within a few years on the back of thousands of peoples energy, and lives, but time quickly moved on and they are now skeletons of their formers selves.

As I reflect on this one week, we visited towns that have boomed and busted within a decade, we saw the continual march of technology and industry driving a constant change in the people of these town’s lives, some for better and some for worse. Time has moved more slowly in the changing of the landscape but the consistent effect of the elements have molded in a far greater way than most human endeavors can achieve. When we look at an individual’s life, particularly as it comes to an end, we see it is a compilation of hundreds of small events of where they have put their time that end up melding into a lived experience that is like no other.

So how does this help with the ‘noisy’ deadline. For me the deadline is important and I will give effort to it, but it will pass, and there will be another deadline that needs to be met as best I can. However, the constants that will shape both the bigger change agenda and my lived experience need to remain in my calendar despite the ‘noise’ of the deadline. Investing time in these will be of the greatest value and with time their value will be seen. For me these are: consistency in character to maintain trust and influence in the group I am leading, consistency with family and creating positive and impacting experiences while they are at their most malleable time of life and finally caring for my physical and spiritual health which will dictate what the ‘landscape’ of my life and after look like.

If you too struggle with the tensions of time the team at Joseph Consulting can assist you to find clarity in the ‘noise’ and identify those consistent behaviours that will not only assist in meeting the deadlines but more importantly create the slow and effective change that will reap rewards for years, and maybe a lifetime to come.


Rod Ellem

Rod Ellem is an Associate Director Physiotherapy with Queensland Health. Recently Rod spent 6 months traveling around Australia with his young family (wife and 4 kids), leaving the pressures of Clinical and Leadership roles behind. This opportunity has given him a chance to think clearly without all the ‘noise’ of life. Each week of the trip he distilled his experience into one lesson that form the basis of these blogs. These lessons and insights can be applied to all areas of business/career/family.

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