What is your most precious asset as an executive?
Money and investments are certainly high on the list. However, you can earn back money that you have lost, and find new opportunities and investments.
In fact, if we use the criteria of renewability to screen for how precious an asset is, then we can also remove a second asset from the list: professional relationships. Your network of professional relationships is one of the most important assets that you have. Almost nothing is more important to your success. However, to a large extent, your network is in fact renewable. You can repair wounded relationships, and you can continue to grow your networks by meeting new people.
The same goes for a third asset that is precious: health and vitality. While we take the importance of our health and vitality for granted, to a large extent we can make healthy choices that renew our health, vitality, and energy. With the right diet, exercise, and stress management, we can bring fresh focus, discipline, and enthusiasm to our work every day.
While money, professional relationships, and vitality are mostly renewable, there is one asset that is not. Because it is so finite, it is more precious than any other.
The one resource that we have that is not renewable is time. Every second we use is a second that we cannot get back.
We know this, and yet we often act as if we do not. We spend our time doing things that others could be doing instead. We do things that are not essential to our organization’s strategic priorities. We do things that are not the most important things for us to be doing as leaders.
As a result, we feel overwhelmed. We lose our focus. Ironically, our other assets suffer as well. We are stressed and lose energy and vitality. We do not relate as well with others, because we are distracted and cannot give our full attention. We make poor decisions that cost money.
Time is indeed our most important asset. Be sure that you treat as you would any other. Measure how you use it. Analyze your decisions. Make new, more strategic choices going forward. Do what it takes to set boundaries to execute those choices.
In the case of time, sunk costs are truly sunk forever.