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By: Bob Bertsch

Is Time Really Scarce?

Can you be vulnerable enough to admit you’re not constantly busy? I’ll give it a try. Last night, I sat down in the basement noodling around on my ukulele while my 13 year-old son sat beside me playing video games. I have things on my to-do list that I could have been doing, but to paraphrase Bartleby the Scrivener, I preferred not to.

So why does admitting that make me feel vulnerable? Why does being constantly busy make me feel important?

Both keynote addresses at the OneOp Virtual Conference got me thinking about this. Dr. Charles Figley talked about the importance of self-care. We all have people that we serve and support. If we want to be at our best for them, we need to take the time to take care of ourselves. Dionardo Pizana talked about connecting with yourself, your emotional intelligence and with others as a way of dealing with organizational change. Are you taking time to reflect, develop empathy and build relationships?

Time is considered our most scarce resource. The time each of us has is finite. But in considering the scarcity of time, I’m reminded of something Devine Carama said at the 2017 NACDEP/CDS Conference, “We are arrogant to believe we will see the impact of our leadership while we are alive.”

It is also arrogant to think of our time as scarce. It is a self-centered attitude. We do no work alone. Again, we do NO work alone.

Our work today, this hour, this minute is part of the collective work many of us are doing to make military families ready and resilient, to improve people’s lives and communities, to build a more equitable, inclusive world. To focus only on our contributions or to complain about how little time we have is hubris. We have all the time in this world and the world to come. The time of our collaborators, known and unknown, those who live and work today and those who will live and work in the future.

That does not mean that we should not take full advantage of the time we have. Instead it means we should do what we can with the time we have. We should take time to take care of ourselves. We should take time to connect with others to share our work. We should take the time to share space with someone we love. We should stop being “busy” and take full advantage of the time we share.