Do not let your life's time be stolen!

Do not let your life’s time be stolen!

And do not steal others’…

It was over 25 years ago… I remember giving one of my first keynotes. There were about 600 people, and a friend of mine (perhaps wanting to increase my stress?) said, ‘You will speak for an hour to 600 people. That’s 600 person-hours. These people could be at home, reading a book, playing with their children, walking their dog, making love, preparing a meal…’

Since that day, every time I speak at a conference, I feel the weight of this responsibility: I must give them something that is at least as valuable as what they could be doing elsewhere.

I ask myself these questions each time and strive to answer them precisely.

  • What will they learn?
  • What will they feel?
  • What will they want to do?



I also ask myself these questions when speaking to a small group of people or even a single interlocutor…

And I sometimes use tools like Socrates’ three filters or the Toltec agreements.

Socrates’ Three Filters

Socrates had a high reputation for wisdom in ancient Greece. One day, someone came to the great philosopher and asked,

– Do you know what I just learned about your friend?
– Wait a moment. Before you tell me more, I’d like you to pass the test of the three filters.
– The three filters?
– Yes, Socrates replied. It’s my way of analyzing what I have to say and what is said to me. You’ll understand… The first filter is that of truth. Have you verified if what you want to tell me is true?
– No. I just heard about it… It’s what others say.
Very well. So, you don’t know if it’s true.
– …No.
– Then let’s move on to the second filter: what you want to tell me about my friend, is it something good?
– Oh no! On the contrary.
– So, Socrates continued, you want to tell me things that are not good about him, and you’re not sure if they’re true, is that it?
– Um…
– Finally, and this is my third filter, is it useful for you to tell me what my friend may have done?
– Useful, I don’t know, not really sure.
– Then, concluded Socrates, if what you have to tell me is neither true nor good nor useful for me, why tell me? I prefer not to know what you have to say about my friend.

With that, he left, leaving the person stunned by these questions…



The Toltec Agreements

Born to a curandera mother and a Toltec shaman father, Miguel Ángel Ruiz studied medicine to become a surgeon.

His life took a turn during a near-death experience, inspiring him to seek answers to life’s questions in the Toltec tradition. His book, published in 1997, has sold over 4 million copies.

The 4 (or five…) agreements in question are:

  • Let your word be impeccable. Speak with integrity, say only what you really think.
  • Don’t take anything personally. You are not the cause of others’ actions. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, dreams, fears, anger, fantasies.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Don’t start developing hypotheses, eventually believing them as certainties.
  • Always do your best. There is no obligation to succeed; there is only an obligation to do your best.
  • Be skeptical and learn to listen. Use the power of doubt to question everything you hear.



And for those who want to go further, I also invite you to explore the principles of nonviolent communication.

Time: the absolute rare resource

The older I get, the more convinced I am that time is the absolute rare resource. The one that cannot be replaced or recharged.

So, let’s not steal our life’s time, and let’s take care of the quality of our words.

Take care of your ‘life’s time.’

And take care of others’ ‘life’s time’ 🙂

You may also like

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.