Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Discretionary Time: Making a Difference at Home, at Work, and in the Community

I believe in finding inspiration wherever we can. Earlier today, I tweeted an article on leadership using Tim Tebow as an example. This afternoon, I found this post in Legal Rebels by Patrick Lamb, which also struck a chord with me.

As Lamb asks, “What are you going to do about your personal situation? About the world’s?” We each have an obligation to make a difference to our families and friends and colleagues, and also to the greater community in which we live. We all have endless possibilities in how we conduct our lives – at home and at work. And the choices we make are what defines us.

I remember learning of the concept of “discretionary time” about twelve years ago. A diversity consultant was talking to my management team about how improving diversity in our firm was up to each of us – if we didn’t spend time on diversity-related activities in the workplace, no one else would either. And each of us, no matter how big or how small our job was, had some time that we could control, some time to spend on what was important to us.

I’ve tried to apply the concept of discretionary time each day since then. I try to spend some time on an activity of my choosing. Not what my boss wanted me to do, not what my subordinates asked for, not what family members thought I needed to do.

Even if it was just fifteen minutes reading an article on a topic where I needed development, or stopping by a colleague’s office for a casual discussion, or attending a community event, I did something that showed what I thought was important in my life.

What can you do with your discretionary time? Please comment below.

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