Money Matters

Asset or liability?

By Sirajuddin Aziz
Mon, 11, 23

Perhaps, as a nation, time is one resource with which we are amply blessed. We could complain about the lack of many other types of resources, economic or otherwise, but time is something, that we have in abundance. It wouldn't be too off the mark to confess that, in fact there is to us from mother nature an oversupply of this asset ... which we by design convert it conveniently into a liability of all sorts.

Asset or liability?

Perhaps, as a nation, time is one resource with which we are amply blessed. We could complain about the lack of many other types of resources, economic or otherwise, but time is something, that we have in abundance. It wouldn't be too off the mark to confess that, in fact there is to us from mother nature an oversupply of this asset ... which we by design convert it conveniently into a liability of all sorts.

What one has of more, tends to not appreciate, its true value. It is a human condition where if the quest is available without much effort, the value of the asset, tangible or intangible, visible or invisible, slides into the cavity of ingratitude. We don't normally as human specie, acknowledge with thankfulness, the many splendid blessings we have bestowed with. Time is one such resource. This is taken for granted. We live under the illusion that time is an inexhaustible resource. Most untrue.

Time as a factor of human continuum is a reality but it is not to be confused with a lifetime economic asset. Time doesn't depreciate. Effective use makes it an appreciating asset.

Time is invaluable. It is not elastic. It has neither a announced beginning nor an announced end. It is not something that can either be produced or created. It is limited in relation to an individual. We all have limited time, unknown to us, is it’s duration, to achieve several goals in life.

Our work and our relationships demand investment of time. Regrettably, sleep takes a major chunk of our existence, albeit, it is a biological human need; if the life expectancy is taken at 75 years on the average in Pakistan, anyone (I know at least one person) who liberally indulges in 8-9 hours of sleep, out of the 24 hours that are created each day in our life, on a cumulative basis, means that such a person would have slept 31 years of his life, bestowed by divinity. What a colossal waste of the natural blessing. John .F. Kennedy had rightly said, "We must use time as a tool, not as a couch".

Time is a teacher. Time is a healer. Timely responses to appeals made by the human body ,ensure good health. A stich in time saves nine. Delays cause irreparable damage. Time and tide wait for no man. Now and here is the time to do.

Time, lapses irrevocably; even then the present is barely under control, hence the future is beyond measure. Nature is just; therefore everyone gets equal credit of 24 hours in a day. Some use it productively; many kill it.

There are several aspects of our life in this temporal world that are not within our control, atleast to the extent of determining or setting Time for them. The sun will not rise as per human desire, nor the nights can be lengthened. We are bound by nature's time cycles of the alternation of night and day, and the succession of the four seasons, one after the other. Their order cannot be amended, changed or altered.

Benjamin Franklin in an essay written in 1748 had said, "Remember that time is money". The people of the east grasped this better than most. Time in the orient/east is truly valued as money. Having spent a good part of my career at Hongkong, I must admit with admiration, that I never found any local colleagues indulging in wasting time. They play hard ball between the designated work hours. They normally dislike late sitting. Since they're highly productive and efficient during the assigned working hours, they abhor late sitting or even impromptu meetings or assignment of fresh tasks.

I have encountered some supervisors who would pack 25-26 hours in a 24 hour day. These individuals were driven by passion to achieve. They invariably were in devilish haste to complete targets and budgets ahead of pre-determined time scale. Mao The Tung from the socialist circle and Howard Hughes from the capitalist camp, had similar habits; both defied the clock . They had thick drapes on their windows, so that they wouldn't get to know, whether it was day or night!. The way we spend our time, actually defines to the world at large , who we are and what do we represent.

In about 9 hours on an average, spent at the office, I say with conviction, the productive hours do not exceed 3 hours, or at best may be four. The rest are whiled away in meetings, usually all foam and fluff in content; or on telephone or on unnecessary reading/responding to the many: forwards, received on various social media sites, and a lot of time is also lost in having to meet cultural demands of welcoming the uninvited, unannounced and unwanted visitors. Those who don't succumb to these aberrations in time management make for better managers .

Many at the office have to suffer a verbose supervisor ... some of them just love their voice, they want to with absolute pleasure, keep listening to themselves with admiration; consequently they incessantly talk, this, that and much more of the other, to the pain and mental anguish of their poor reports. Those in their reporting line have to bear to listening the same stories several times over. These stories or tales, both true and imagined, (some illusionary and some delusional, almost harbouring on hallucinations); some of which are repeats and re-runs with additional marination of sauce, spice and salt.

The present (now) is irreversible, just as the future (succession to the present moment) cannot be had before its time. The present is the past, that has within its womb ,the future. We are all subject to measurement of time. Every activity that we undertake has to be measured in time, in fact, it must be time bound.

No good act or kindness should be delayed, in Ralph Emerson 's words, "You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late". Humans delay, time is punctual. Lao Tzu, says, "Time is a created thing. To say,'I don't have time is to say,' I don't want to". In my exhortations to young colleagues to spend sufficient time in Reading, the invariable answer is, We don't get the time, we don't have enough of it ... this response infuriates me to no end. Time is always available in abundance, only if there is passion to do something. We can always find enough time to do activities that make us happy.

Reading is an investment to develop intellectual capital, a requirement whose need grows with rapidity each day, owing to lightening speed of technological development. How can any today not understand the importance of Artificial Intelligence or the role of Gpchat in Today's business environment.

Time is what we want most but what we use worst". Procrastination, is the fiercest enemy of time --- especially its misuse. In the "Merry Wives of Windsor", William Shakespeare alluded to doing things before designated time," Better three hours soon than a minute late".

Nature has given "Time" a powerful status. Nobody (humans) can control it nor can anyone stop its flow. Our limited options in its context is to use it profitably, through the development of defined routines and habits. Each individual must be encouraged in any organisation to keep a scorecard of time utilisation; this will help identify , where or which activity, has greater demand of time or to discover, where it is in short supply. Time casts major influences on our existence.

The need for leaders and managers is to continually remain in step with time, and not be in conflict with it or work against it. A quote I love most and remind myself most, is, "Be like a postage stamp --- stick to one thing until you get there". The one who doesn't push the Oars is most likely to rock the boat of his life and steer and sail it into perilous and turbulent currents.

Those nations and societies flourish , who hold time in awe and respect. The demand of time must always be greater than its supply; only then we will witness economic growth and enhanced productivity.

The writer is a senior banker & freelance columnist