Time, Energy and Attention Are The Only Things We Invest That We Can’t Get Back

Remember that time energy and attention are the only things we invest and can't get back so use them wisely

Here’s a typical scenario…

You’re an employee at a large organization, have been there for a while. You see opportunities to make things better, you talk to people, some doors open then they close. You’re frustrated because you can’t make progress. You start thinking about all the ways everything could be better if you only had a chance to apply your ideas.

Does this sound familiar?

Last week I published a post about how we need to think about failure differently to drive innovation; it got a lot of attention. The inspiration behind that post was a question I got during the Q&A session after a talk I gave to Foxconn Directors and employees last week. Today’s post is inspired by a Foxconn employee who walked up to me afterwards to share her frustrating experience trying to make transformation happen inside a large organization and see what I think she should do.

Her story is the opening paragraph.

We don’t get our time, energy and attention back

We’ve all been there. My advice to you is it’s best to stop and take your passion elsewhere if you’ve been at it for a long time and are not making any progress. Remember that time, energy and attention are the only things we invest and can’t get back; so use them wisely.

As a misfit, you need to be in a place that values initiative and concern and where you don’t need to ask for permission to make things better. Unfortunately most organizations only pay lip service to innovation, so your options are to keep at it where you are, look for a place that truly values initiative and passion or go off on your own.

Most entrepreneurs and innovators choose the latter.

Caution for Leaders and Managers

Innovation happens at work when a few things are true, two of them are organizational support and rewarding bravery; both critical for a culture of innovation. As a leader or manager you have to remember that people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers.The reason is simple: It’s critical for people to feel like they’re making progress. Enthusiasm is oxygen, and people’s spirit dies if you kill it.

So if you’re a business leader or manager and don’t want innovation to die in your organization, I can’t stress this enough: you’re killing people’s spirit when you impede progress. So use it or lose it, your talent will leave if you don’t.