The Best Time To Begin Was Yesterday, Now What?

I recently read an article from a friend of mine, J.B. Farrell, investigating the relationship of time and money and how there is no equal trade off between the two. I completely agree and felt like I could explore the idea further. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about developing marketing and authority over time. This concept is still very much a part of my process for myself, my business, and my clients. To reinforce the concept, I have decided to break it down to its most basic form using a valuable Chinese Proverb.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

The value of time; Are money and time equal?

As simple as it would to answer this question in black and white terms of yes or no, it should be better understood and answered by if and when. I don’t want to be too technical with my approach, so you should try to visualize your finite lifetime and when it has the most perceived value, if certain milestones have come to fruition. This will allow you to relate your lifetime to the tree from the proverb, where your milestones are.

Take a more in depth look at the tree

A tree is not instantly a tree once it is planted. It begins its life as a seed, born of its parent tree. The seed is planted in the soil, where it receives the necessary resources of minerals and water. When the seed begins to sprout, the stalk will grow towards the light and the roots will grow deeper into the soil. As the tree begins to grow as a sapling, branches and leaves will begin to grow from the trunk.

From seed to sapling, the tree is still very fragile and could easily be ruined by internal and external factors. However, with consistent growth of new branches, leaves, bark, and deeper and wider roots, over time the integrity and security of the tree becomes very strong. Eventually, this tree will bare seeds of its own which will begin the process again.

Throughout this growth processes, the tree did not make the decision to create a new branch or leaf. It simply did what was natural, and did it with the resources available to it at that moment in time.

Value of time and money. The lifetime of a tree is parallel to the lifetime of a person or business.

Value of time and money. The lifetime of a tree is parallel to the lifetime of a person or business.

How the tree example mimics life and business

Your life begins when you are born much like it does with the tree as a seed, but you are very much a sapling until adulthood. A business is much the same story. There is inherit risk in the early stages of growth, but surrounding yourself or business with the resources you need to grow quickly and strong, the risk of failure decreases and the likelihood of success increases with time.

Even after becoming an adult, the resources around you will continue to change, the direction you want to grow will change. These changes can affect your perceived value of time, but you can eternally benefit from your beginnings. A tree does not grow at the same rate over time, neither will you, neither will your business. By working on a strong foundation, starting today or 20 years ago, you will be able to use time to your advantage no matter the rate of growth.

When to begin it all

It may come as a shock, but your seed has already been planted and it has already begun to sprout. Many of us, including myself, have personal and business goals and many of us tend to want to achieve those goals instantly. The thought of the investment, money and time, truly necessary to achieve those goals prevents us from even taking that first step and actually doing something.

Imagine a seed that simply won’t sprout because it is not instantly a tree and is focused on the hardship and changes it expects to encounter. If a seed had these thoughts, we would not find many trees or any at all. Each day you aren’t growing, is another day with less value.

That is why you must accomplish a task at a time that takes you a step closer to that goal. A seed must sprout, a person must do. Looking forward, each day spent doing something to grow yourself or your business ultimately influences the next day. Over time, you will accumulate a foundation of actions done, resources gained, and new ideas started. The best time to start was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.

What could you be doing now that will benefit you or your business in the future?
Photography credit to Keri Risse Photography.
  • Robyn Smith

    This advice is so “timely” (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun ;-) in our “microwave society” today. Real growth takes time and patience- hard words to accept in our current culture. Yet, if you consider those real milestones, as you suggest, those we value most developed over time, often almost incomprehensibly. Take for example the simple tasks of childhood: learning to read, add simple numbers, tie shoelaces, and so on. When we were learning these tasks, they were challenging, even perhaps to the point of frustration, but as adults – or even as older children – they seem natural. This premise, as you express in your article, applies to business as much as the rest of life. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Chris Risse

      You hit on the point of struggle. When going through the pains of growing, you are very aware of the stress it creates. Once the pain passes, lessons have been learned and we move on with what we now know to prepare ourselves for future growing pains. It is a cycle, as it should be. The most important lesson is to know that there will always be a challenge ahead and you should accept it in order to learn, survive, and succeed.

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