I recently had the opportunity to address the graduating class of CPAs from the Dallas CPA Society Leadership Academy.  I spoke to them about time, attitude and integrity.  I plan to cover these topics in a series of blogs and I will start with talking about time in this blog.

Time is a magical thing.  You can give it away, but you can’t buy it.  Once it’s gone you can never get it back, but there is always more right around the corner.  It is also the great equalizer.  It doesn’t matter if you are the highest paid CEO or the lowest paid employee, everyone has the same amount of time.

When people hear about all that I do and have done, the first question is almost always, how do you do it all? The answer is time – I don’t waste it.  I don’t use it on things I don’t enjoy and I use a simple prioritization in deciding what to do with my time.  My priorities are:

  • My God
  • My Family
  • My Career
  • My Profession

If you don’t have a focus and a center for your life, then you will wonder around lost spending time in all the wrong places.  Many people look at all the things I’ve done in the profession and ask, how can you say you’ve put family ahead of that?  My answer is that, yes, I missed an occasional event, but I made it to six graduations (and counting), celebrated every birthday and anniversary, attended dozens of concerts, hundreds of soccer games and countless other events and activities.

My real secret to success, however, was to combine things.  We made going to the CPA Society annual meeting an annual family vacation.  Some of the best family stories came from those trips, like getting upgraded for no extra charge to a three-story suite in San Destin and accidentally locking my daughter out on the balcony forcing her to crawl in through an open window above the door. Or listening to my four children sing happy birthday to their Mom in front of a hundred CPAs (they still haven’t forgiven me nor Donna Heavener for that one).  Yes, I might have missed the beach outing in the morning while I was in CPE or meetings, but I did spend breakfast, lunch, the afternoon, dinner and the evening with them.  Just ask any teenager, that is more than enough Dad time for any of them. As a result of my professional involvement, my kids got to go to Orlando, Washington DC, New York, the Bahamas and countless beaches. My wife and I have been able to spend time together in places from Las Vegas to Brussels.  My family is as intertwined with my profession as my career is.

My career has also been very important, but the magic of being a CPA is that you have more control over your schedule than many people.  You can carve out time for the doughnut with Dad first thing in the morning or leave a little early to make it home to chaperone the band going to a Friday night football game.  Sure, the work still had to get done and it did – just not necessarily strictly between 9 and 5.

Spending time on the right things is the foundation for a successful life, but it is not enough.  You also have to have the right attitude and the proper integrity, but you’ll have to wait for future blogs to hear about those topics.

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