Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.
d. 278 B.C.
One of the most common complaints I hear is lack of time; most people I know feel constantly stressed over too much to do in too little time. But have you ever thought about how always being in a hurry can dramatically affect your life?
Let me tell you about a famous study conducted in 1973 by Professor John Darley and doctoral student Daniel Batson at Princeton University. To carry out the study, the researchers recruited a group of seminary students. Seminary students were chosen because the researchers felt they would be predisposed to offer help to someone in need.
The experiment was set up so that each student would walk to a building on the other side of campus to give a presentation. The researchers told each student one of three statements with regard to time: that there was plenty of time before the presentation; that the presentation started in a few minutes; or that the student was running late.
As each student walked across campus, he would encounter a victim (an actor) who was obviously in distress. The goal of the experiment was to determine which students would stop to help and why they did so.
Here’s the amazing result: the researchers found no correlation between the personality of the students and their efforts to help. The major determinant was the amount of time the student thought was available. Of the ones who thought they had plenty of time, 63% stopped to offer assistance. Of the students who thought they had just a few minutes to spare, only 45% stopped to help. And with the ones who believed they were running late, only 10% stopped to help.
What’s the lesson here? The more stressed we are about time, the less likely we are to be concerned about others and their problems.
It’s very easy to see self-centered behavior everywhere you look. The more we experience time pressure, the less likely we are to respond to the needs of others. And our sense of being rushed doesn’t only affect how we interact with strangers. It has a direct impact on how we respond in our business and personal relationships.
Slow down. Examine how you spend your time. Consider the things that are most important in life. Are you devoting enough time and energy to what really matters? If you’re always in a hurry, chances are good that you’re trying to do too many things. Unfortunately, the things we let slide are often the most important things we can do.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
c. 604 – c. 531B.C.
Copyright © 2017 John Chancellor