Just ask Salvador Dali.
And like many works of art, there is no monetary value we can place on it.
Mastering the art of bending time is vital to success in business, or in anything else, really.
A boxing match? Create time. Use all eight seconds of that mandatory standing eight count when you get knocked down. Move around the ring.
A football game? Burn up time. Keep running the ball in bounds to run out the clock when you’re ahead late in the game.
Politicians are masters of this art. They reinvent time with each new election cycle.
One of the most inciteful statements I’ve ever heard came in the recent blockbuter movie, Avengers: Endgame.
Tony Stark reminds his father of a meaningful gem Tony learned from his dad in his youth:
“No amount of money ever bought a second of time.”
It’s a cold, sobering fact, but he’s right.
Time cannot be bought with any amount of money.
But it can be rented.
The currency for renting time is, your wits.
wits / (wɪts)
Bastogne, Belgium – December 1944
SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AGO the day of this writing, on December 22nd one of the most courageous tactics of renting time was employed.
It was the frigid European winter of 1944 in World War II, and thousands of American troops were surrounded in a small town in Belgium near France and Luxumburg.
The story was followed daily in the newspapers and radio by millions of Americans. Bastogne.
19,000 American soldiers were killed, 23,000 were captured, 47,500 were wounded.
American soldiers were surrounded and outnumbered 5-1.
In the sub-zero coldest winter in european history, with blowing winds and freezing rain, they were dangerously low in cold-weather gear, ammunition, food, medical supplies, and senior officers.
Further, overcast winter weather pinned them down – they couldn’t be resupplied by air. Of course, this also meant that tactical air support was unavailable.
SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AGO, Nazi General von Lüttwitz sent an emmisary under white flag to Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, Commander of the American forces in Bastogne:
To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.
The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.
There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.
If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term.
All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.
The German Commander.
General McAuliffe sent his typewritten one-word response to General von Lüttwitz:
To the German Commander.
The American Commander
The German Commander had no idea what the hell General McAuliffe meant.
While the Nazis tried to figure it out and make plans alternate to the anticipated surrender, Ike, Omar Bradley and Blood and Guts Patton met and worked out a solution.
When informed of the complete situation in Bastogne, and of General McAuliffe’s dilemma, General George S. Patton said, “I can attack with three divisions in forty-eight hours.”
Patton’s salvation of the American troops at Bastogne is now a thing of legend.
“The logistical feats accomplished by the Third Army over the next few days would prove nothing short of phenomenal. By the time they were through, the Third Army’s staff had established dozens of new depots and dumps, shifted 63,000 tons of supplies in five days, and moved an average of 4,500 tons of ammunition per day. Hundreds of thousands of new maps, weighing 57 tons in all, were distributed. Some 2,800 miles of road were reconnoitered by transport officers. An entirely new field communications system was set up, requiring 20,000 miles of wire to be strung.
“Writing after the war, Patton’s aide Col. Charles R. Codman tried to put his commander’s performance in perspective:
“To disengage three divisions actually in combat and launch them over more than a hundred miles of icy roads straight into the heart of a major attack of unprecedented violence presented problems which few commanders would have undertaken to resolve in that length of time.”
General McAuliffe rented a couple of precious days’ time for one of the most heroic rescue missions in all of military history to take place.
The Flying Horse Theory
I learned how to rent time from one of my favorite personal philosophers, Bubba.
As VP of Sales for our exciting new hell-bent for success company, I had a lot of deadlines to manage.
I had hands-on direct supervision of my sales team of 19 in-field reps, another division of ten sales reps for a different division of our company, another different division of ten sales reps, our graphics department and our customer service department. I stayed busy.
One late afternoon I worked on several deadline issues at my desk when Bubba came in and sat down with a beer in his hand.
We talked about what I was up to.
Bubba asked, “Ever hear of the Flying Horse Theory?”
“No, Bubba” I replied. “I don’t really have time right now to hear … “
He continued on as if I’d asked with glee to hear his allegory.
“It seems in old times this guy was getting sentenced to death by the King.
The guy looked over and saw the King’s prize horse in a corral being trained by its trainer.
He looked at the King and said, “King! King! You don’t want to kill me!”
The baffled King asked, “Why not?”