Time Competence

A key strategic skill is time competence. That is the ability to balance the future, the present and the past.

Some people are completely living in the present. There is an argument that today many young adults fit there.

Eckhart Tolle has made a fine career out of expounding the value of this approach. His books, The Power of Now, the first and others since have done very well and include important ideas. His plan is to escape the “Present” that many of us have, being the space between the unsatisfying past and fear inducing future.

A 2003 interview is instructive.

On another level the present can be viewed as the space between past and future wherein we can remember past events and predict future ones. It is perhaps 3 or 4 years of past and 2 or so years of future. A 6-year-long time envelope outside of which, we are oblivious to reality. That is probably too short to develop meaningful life plans.

Fortunately there is a way to do it anyway.

It requires that you know what you have committed to from your past and what you wish to achieve in the future. Once those are known, you can allocate present resources to meeting the commitments and carry on.

You will probably need a guide with some arithmetic skills to traverse this territory, but they are available.

Time competence means you can build functioning plans and methods that together accomplish what you want.

If you are past incompetent then you will tend to be overwhelmed. The present and the future are futile. On the other hand future incompetence leads to a Pollyanna approach that everything will work out. A “living for the moment” present based approach has both flaws and benefits.

Balance is required and you may not be able to see it from the inside. A helper can add perspective.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. don.s@protectorsgroup.com

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