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How to make a difference on 24 hours a day

We all have 24 hours in a day. So why does no one seem to have any time?

I was driving to and from the Denver airport yesterday, picking up Alison from a long trip back to Seattle. She is preparing our house for sale. I was happy to have her back in Colorado.

My current routine doesn’t involve a ton of driving, especially not through the city. I was struck by how fast people were driving, in spite of the pouring rain and the late hour, it was as if everyone was in a rush to get somewhere. Cruising along at 80 mph through an urban section of I–70, I was passed left and right like I was standing still.

If everyone was in such a rush, they surely must have had something important to get to? They must be short on time, right? It was a Sunday night. What could possibly be the rush? Were they rushing to work on their life’s work at a late-night coffee shop? Were they in a hurry to get home to spend time with their kids?

I am guessing not.

We all have 24 hours a day, but each of us chooses to use it differently.

This is the difference that makes the difference.

Some choose to rush home at 90 mph to watch reruns of Friends on TBS or binge watch House of Cards, and others decide to spend their time writing, reading, learning or being with their family.

Same time spent, massively different results.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, Gandhi and Mother Theresa all operated in a world of 24 hour days. Shakespeare published over 37 plays and 154 sonnets that are still widely read, performed and used as inspiration for countless films. Shakespeare didn’t have 30 hours a day to build his legacy.

Longevity isn’t the sole secret to success either.

It’s not like people who do great things live until they are 300 years old, Bilbo notwithstanding, relying on father time and luck to make their impression. Shakespeare passed away young, in today’s years, at the age of 52. Steve Jobs left us at the age of 56, along with countless innovations that most of us now own and covet. Bill Gates created an entire industry, and become a billionaire in the process, by the age of 31.

There is also no rule that you can only make a difference when you are young. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years but still did amazing and lasting work that changed the course of South Africa and other segregated communities globally, both before and after his imprisonment.

Dean Kamen, who holds over 440 patents, is best known for having invented the Segway but also created the life-saving portable dialysis machine and the insulin pump.

Kamen left college to pursue his first invention full-time (the auto-syringe drug infusion pump). At the age of 65, he is currently working on a water purification and power generation devices that stand to improve health and living conditions in developing countries. His inventions have radically improved health care worldwide.

Then, there are kids like Taylor Rosenthal, who at the age of 14, recently received a $30 million buyout offer for his first-aid vending machine startup. He rejected the offer..

There are also moms like Julie Aigner-Clark, who as a stay at home mom and former teacher, created what would go on to become the Baby Einstein multi-million dollar franchise in the late 1990’s. She started with a home-built VHS tape and ended up a few years later with a buyout offer from Disney and several entrepreneur of the year awards.

We all have 24 hours a day. We can use the time to learn, grow, build things of value, change someone’s life for the better, connect with spirit (or God, whatever that means for you), help our communities, inspire others, leave a legacy or all of the above.

We can also choose to do none of these things. To let excuses of “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time” crowd out the possibility in our lives. We can think that because we are too young, too old or don’t have permission, that we should sit still, shut up and count our lucky stars.

We can survive on 24 hours a day, or we can decide to make a difference.

Which are you choosing?

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