I once took a class in negotiation that really challenged me.
I liked the reading (Difficult Conversations, Getting to Yes) but didn’t feel successful as a negotiator. I never felt I had enough time to do a really good job. Even in a classroom setting where the stakes weren’t real, I felt uncomfortable and rushed as I tried to complete, to my satisfaction, the assigned tasks within the time allotted.
The class itself was pretty brief — only two weeks long — and therefore designed to lay bare just a few essential lessons. And I did learn at least two significant things. The first was that the one variable we all must face in every negotiation, indeed in everything, is time. The second was that whatever time we do have in any given scenario dwindles just as we are considering the problem of not having enough of it.
There’s nothing too profound in either of those revelations – we all know that our time is limited, on scales big and small.
But I’ve been thinking about these basic truths in the context of our ever-increasing abilities to access and analyze data and to do our work in exponentially faster ways as a result of new technologies. For someone like me, who likes to be thoughtful and deliberative, having quicker access to the information doesn’t necessarily help me “get to yes”; in fact it can get in the way of my ever feeling I’ve completed what I set out to complete, as there is always more I could know or do.
For me, it’s almost never a question of needing more information — what I really want is just a little more time. Consequently, time is fast becoming the most valuable currency to me, and it is something I will rarely, if ever, feel I have enough of, or want to negotiate away.
I can relate. Of course, I too struggle with finding enough time to do everything that “needs” to be done as well as everything that I “want” to do. However, sometimes I find it helps to stop and remember that really, “Time” itself is Infinite and Abundant. It is only really limited by our worldview, perceptions, and choices. And sometimes I have experienced a great sense of lightness, ease, and relief when I consciously try to remember and live closer to this truth.
Shaine, I always imagine your life as full of timeless moments because I believe you live closer to nature than many of us. So it’s interesting to realize that even in a setting like yours, you struggle sometimes to remember that we are the reason we feel our time is so limited. Time itself, as you say, is independent of us. Thank you for your comment!