How do you measure time?

I’m reflecting, I guess? It’s the time period. It’s in the air. It’s emotional. It’s a time of, for and about reflection.

Did you ever stop to think about the value of time? How do you measure that value? When motivating individuals or teams, how do you, as a leader, share your perspective on how you lay out time and create awareness of what’s possible to be accomplished?

Over the last 12 months, I’ve paused to take time back for myself. I wanted to own my time to grow, learn, and invite myself differently to tackle new challenges in the next phase of my personal and professional life. I tell myself that it’s not selfish, it’s strategic to own my time for this endeavor. Industries are being disrupted; job markets are changing, and therefore new skill sets and behaviors are required to face the challenges of today’s world.

How do you pause in the current state, picture yourself in your future state, and plot your path to accomplish that idea? I think it starts with looking back to consider how you added value this past year, and what value you are capable of adding in the future. What were the dreams you dreamt and what was accomplished? What was lost and what was gained?

I’m putting it out there and self-reflecting. This year for me was unexpected; I guess most years are, but this one was a whole new level. The good news is I’ve learned I’m capable of being more adaptable and resilient than I thought. This past year was definitely the year of, “Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Reflection is funny. When you think back, the moments you never expected to remember are the ones that shine bright. These moments create clarity to lead towards the future.

For example, months back I surprised myself walking through NYC. From park to park for over eight miles just to see a side of NYC unexplored in the 10 years I’ve lived here. From Washington Square Park, to Union Square Park, then Madison Square Park … is it time to acknowledge NYC has a lot of “square parks”? Anyway, eight miles later and through Central Park, I ended up in Harlem and close to home. Today, as I walk those same parks, I think back to those unexpected moments. It was a moment that was mine, and it afforded me much-needed reflection time to focus on what I wanted next.

Lots of other comments, moments, and friendships flood my mind as I reflect on this past year with gratitude.

– A new friend of mine and Diversity and Inclusion expert, Lolita Chandler, stated, “Context Matters and Intention versus Impact” during a private conversation.
– Jill Katz gave me much needed kick in the butt by offering feedback to complement her famous #candorcourageandcare mantra during another great Assemble Network event.
– Dr. Ron Milon saying, “I believe in you” during a catch-up lunch, and it lights up my day.
– Helping to lead HMI to its first onsite corporate Job Fair to support LGBTQ+ young people find jobs to continue on their journey. This was an amazing team effort.
– Graduating with 3 different certificates from Cornell and Gallup when I didn’t even realize certificate programs like these existed a year ago. This, of course, was the classic example of “you don’t know, what you don’t know”.
– Sharing new travel journeys and destinations with loved ones: Lisa, Steve, Kerry, Josh, Stephen, Alfredo, Nettie, and Jed
– Close friends like The Scherman’s, Mita Mallick and Alyssa Stateman sharing sound advice when moments were new and I was uncertain. They provided perspective and clarity.
– My beautiful and magnanimous husband (Michael) gave me an unexpected pep talk when I unknowingly needed it the most. I was staring, contemplating, worrying and poised to make a decision that would again change my trajectory and propel me in unexpected ways forward.
– Standing on a quiet pier well beyond midnight, overlooking the Hudson, I thought about love, life, career, and people. How I got to where I got and who was part of that journey.
– All culminating in an incredible opportunity to join the Macy’s, Inc Diversity and Inclusion team.

I’m so grateful for all the people who have supported this year’s journey.

Where would I be today without all the great people who encouraged me, believed in me and helped me on my pathway?

When pausing and truly taking that deep breath, the moments of reflection are beautiful. Each and every time adversity hit, breathing helped. But even more than breathing, it was sharing my hopes, dreams, and fears with friends, loved ones, and advocates who would offer perspective, insight and invigorated me to make life’s big picture a bit clearer.

A year is a long time. When thinking back on 6 months or 12 months, you start to become aware of all that’s possible when you manifest to believe in yourself and explore what’s possible. The smallest moments come to take on a whole new value.

Looking just at the numbers and the potential for valuable moments starts with some basic math. According to Wikipedia 2015 data and several other sources, the average life expectancy in the USA is 79.3 years. That’s about 694,668 hours.

Broken down further; on average – One-third of your life is spent sleeping, and another third of your life is spent eating, drinking, getting dressed and the other usual motions you must take through life. That’s about 465,428 hours.

That leaves one-third of your life for everything else … or about 229,240 hours.

Broken down further, 365 days equals about 8760 hours … Using the same thought process as mentioned and learned, that leaves about 2900 hours each year.

So, my question is this: Aren’t we worth a portion of those 2900 hours a year to invest in and learn more about ourselves and our capabilities? This time is critical to think, dream, and become who we want to be.

Who am I? I am loved. I am thoughtful of others. I am inspired by others. I am invested in others. I am invested in myself. I am confident and self-aware. I am funny. I am wise. I am always trying my best. I am passionate (not to be confused with dramatic). I am more than meets the eye. I am a husband, son, grandson, friend, mentor, and mentee. I am a maximizer, arranger, and relator. I am strategic. I am committed to learning; always. I am valued.

This “I am” exercise is a great way to look at oneself and remember all that we are, can be and might be. This was taught to me by Dr. Gerald Hutchinson, my executive coach. This exercise allows a person to take those precious moments life gives you and remember ”who I am, what value I bring, and why I’m not only worth 2900 hours in a year, but I should demand to maximize every second of those hours while I can, forever and for as long as I live. Life’s too short. I am going to maximize this life and live it to the fullest extent because time is one of the few things in life that, once spent, is gone forever.”

Your team needs you to be your best self so they can, in turn, be their best selves. An impactful leader understands how important it is to pause, reflect, share vulnerabilities and map out the game plan for the future. The process is a “go slow to go fast” tactic that is crucial for high performance.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year and how again I can challenge myself, my teammates, my leaders, and leave my mark on the world.

Oh, and while leaving that mark, remember to be kind to people along the way. Share a deeper understanding. People and relationships mean everything. People made this past year worth writing about. More than anything, investing in others is worth our time, and it makes our precious time, that much more valuable.

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