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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, dancing and good movies.  

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are you already asking yourself this precious HR question? It's all about peace of mind and time-management


A couple of days ago someone called me, asking for references about a former employee of mine. The call was short and sweet and lasted about 10 minutes. I was asked about how I met the person, how I would describe the collaboration with her, which are the strengths (but not the weaknesses) of the person, which kind of tasks the person completed and so on.

As the phone call was almost terminated, I got asked a last HR question, and somehow this question rang a bell in my head.

"If you would have the chance to work with this person once again, would you do it?".
"Yes, for sure".

What strokes me so much? Certainly it was not the answer, because I would actually be happy to work with the person again.
It was the HR question itself.

A question that is so simple and clear and yet sometimes too complicate and tricky to answer.
If you would have the chance to learn XY once again, would you do it?
If you would have the chance to work for XY once again, would you do it?
If you would have the chance to spend time with XY once again, would you do it?

If the answer is yes, congratulations: you are happy with your past, with what you did, with your previous choices and you still find them useful. This is called "peace of mind" and it's a great thing.
If the answer is no, congratulations as well: you have learned from your past, you are able to question what you did, you have examined your previous choices and now you would love to do something different.

The point is not blaming yourself for your past. Neither is it to congratulate yourself for how smart you are.
The point to me is accepting your past, accepting your present and going a step further through the use of the HR question. How can achieve this?
By asking yourself that question more often. Not only after doing something, but before doing it.
By asking yourself: "Am I going to care about XY in XY months? Am I going to still find it useful or interesting?".

If the answer is yes, go ahead.
If the answer is no, go ahead if you want, but do it while being aware that you are doing it as a pastime. 

[Time is not money...
Time is life]

It sounds somehow silly, but it is not.
In the past I was used to talk about "expiration date situations" or "expiration date relationships". It was a bittersweet way to describe something without future, some kind of interests or activities that were, for some reasons, born to be delimited and to last only for XY days or months. A time-limited edition, if you want to use another definition.

Sometimes that was a good choice, sometimes it wasn't. I don't regret it, because every choice I made, helped me become what I am today and I am happy with it. But...
I am not a big fan of planning everything in advance, at least in my private life. But neither am I a big fan of wasting time. Time is more than precious: it is priceless. Once time passes by, it is gone for good. No matter how rich, powerful, well-connected, famous, beautiful or intelligent you are. If your time is up, it is up.
No matter what you do, you are not going to be able to turn back time. Or to live ten years longer, if you just decide that it would be nice. You can't buy time.

Sometimes people get surprised when I reply that "I don't have time for XY".
Lately someone told me "Well, you are definitely becoming German!". But I don't think that this attitude has something to do with a culture, a place, or a way of life. I think that it has to do more with how you consider your time and your life.

My time is priceless and valuable.
What about yours?
Let me know in the comments, because I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Tags: HR questions, Time, Time perception, Time-management

1 comment:

  1. When my boss asks me what I would like to have now, I always reply: time. I never asked for more money or a "level", I just need more time for me.. no, you can't buy it. There is no career, no amount that could give you your time back. As about accepting the past.. what else could we do? ;)

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