Use it or lose it

Posted in: Blog, by Mark Topley, on 17th June 2015 | Comments Off on Use it or lose it

I’m grateful for the people in my life who provide timely reminders of what’s important.

A couple of years ago I started working with someone in Tanzania who was keen to support Bridge2Aid. He has lived and worked in the country for many years, is hugely respected, and in terms of philanthropy and working with communities, he is an inspiration. He has been recognised with honours from both his own Government, and the Tanzanian Government. As well as his achievements, he has also remained a kind, relaxed and friendly person. It’s a great balance. And it’s from him that my latest reminder came.

Having agreed to start working on a new and very exciting project late last year, and completed the early stages, the project stalled, partly through a mixture of broken communication and a loss of momentum. I then received the ’tough love’ email. It was the sort of email that hits you hard, but for which you’re immediately grateful. In a nutshell, he had decided to withdraw his time from what we were working on, and focus it elsewhere on other charitable things he wanted to do. One line in the message hit me particularly hard:

‘Mark, time is the most valuable commodity we all have, and the most wasted.’

Which is a phrase we would all nod sagely at, but given the context, what this guy has achieved, and I guess my place in life, it nailed me to the wall. For those of us that have taken a few knocks in life, and learned to bounce back and learn from them, we know this sort of thing is Gold Dust. Although it’s hard to take when someone points out your failings and decides to move on, it also very often gives you the jolt you need. After all, who wants to waste their time? The email initiated a bit of a review for me in other areas of my life, and I am trying to create that sense of urgency that gets things done, whilst resisting the unhealthy tendency to be driven. It’s the difference between being hurried and busy.

After the email, we managed to re-engage after an apology and an explanation, and I’m grateful the project is now back on track with a renewed sense of urgency and commitment (and I’ll be able to announce what it is in a few months).

So today I am re-inspired by an important reminder from someone who has achieved so much, and clearly holds the tension between being achievement and being rushed – carefully stewarding his most valuable commodity.

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