Edison punched a timeclock to keep track of his time

Time is a great friend and a great enemy of innovation. Innovation takes time, sometimes a long time. It often cannot be rushed no matter how much we want to or how much eternal forces want us to. Edison expressed his frustration this way, “The thing with which I lose patience most is the clock. Its hands move too fast.”

We like our lives at work and at home planned out, knowing how long tasks will take. We want our GPS to tell us how long it will take us to get to our destination, and then recalculate when we hit traffic. But innovation does not work that way. Once on a path, we often do not know where the path will lead, or how long it will take to get to a destination. And often that may be a good thing because if we knew how long and difficult the journey would be, we might not get on or stay on the innovation path.

Successful innovators know that innovation takes time, but they also value the time they have. That is one of the aspects that keeps them from being discouraged. They do not waste time, they use time. And if something does not go as planned, it was not a waste of time, rather it was an opportunity to learn something and move the process forward.

So, as we innovate let’s remember the resource of time. While we may feel the pressure of time, let’s use time the best way we can.  Or as Edison said, “Time is really the only capital that any human being has and the thing that he can least afford to waste or lose.”

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