The old adage tells us that “Time is money,” and at the surface this seems to make sense. We spend our time at work to earn money. Compound interest makes our money grow over time. But then again what exactly is money?
Money is currency.
What does this mean? This means that money is the universally accepted means by which we trade goods and services. It is a symbolic representation of the value we would otherwise convey in bartering these goods and services. It’s only a representation of value, not value itself.
So where does the value come from? Labor. It takes work to produce TVs, food, cars, and houses. It takes work to clean someone’s teeth, repair their refrigerator, or massage their tired feet. It takes time to do this work—your time as you go to work each day to produce some of these goods and services.
It also takes a certain amount of skill. Your doctor attended years of med school. The singer of your favorite band has spent countless hours practicing and perfecting his art. The engineer who designed the power plant that powers your home has put considerable effort into obtaining the certifications and technical knowledge needed to design that plant. Skills take time and effort to develop, and this time and effort is factored into how we value the goods and services that people produce.
The goods, services, and information produced by society are all produced through the expenditure of time. It is time, not money, that is the ultimate measure of value—money is merely a surrogate. So it appears that the old adage has got it backwards. Money, in fact, is time.
Time is the most precious commodity of our lives. It is the root of all value, yet few of us are very effective at managing this scarce and precious resource to get more of what we want out of life, myself included. It is astounding that we are not taught from a very early age how to focus time toward our vision of a perfect world to make that world a reality.
Think if we could double the amount of value each person can produce in their lifetime—economic, social, spiritual, artistic, environmental value. Think how that would send the quality of life on Earth soaring to new heights. If we change how people harness the power of time, we will change the world.