One of my favorite experiments when speaking in public is to ask the audience how many of them know the name Elisha Gray (without Googling him)? To date, I have had some weird guesses (no, it wasn’t the guy who dated your roommates’ sister in college) but no correct answers.
I follow up that question by asking how many know the name Alexander Graham Bell. As you can imagine, everyone is familiar with the name and replies that he is the man who invented the telephone. That is a well-known fact that we all learned in fourth grade, right?
Only it is not that simple. The truth is that a man named Elisha Gray filed a patent for a working telephone two hours after the patent was filed by Alexander Graham Bell!
Just 120 minutes, BUT those few moments were the difference between being a household name, forever ensconced in our collective memories, and being regulated to the dustbin of history.
I’m sure you will Google this now, and the story is a bit more complicated than that, but fundamentally, two hours made the difference between historical immortality and being an answer to a trivia question only known by the biggest of US history geeks (I confess).
Obviously this is a rare example, but I think it teaches an important lesson about the value of time. Wasted time is a commodity we can never recover. Chances are few, if any, of us will be remembered in perpetuity, but that doesn’t diminish the value of our time.
I can hear you asking, what’s your point (yes, I know you are taking TIME to read this)? My point is carpe diem. But don’t just seize the day; seize the moment, because we never know the full impact of any of our actions (or inactions).
NACE is a great way for all of us to seize the moment. I know there are great ideas out there, but unless we take the time to share them, they will be lost. We all have the opportunity to take a leading role in shaping the future of our profession. Don’t pass up on that!
None of us can hide behind the excuse that we are not well known or part of the NACE leadership because I can personally attest that NACE is open to the thoughts and ideas of all of its members, irrespective of job title. Leadership and great ideas can come from anyone and at any time (my wife hates when I hop out of bed to write down an idea in the middle of the night).
So don’t hesitate. Attend a NACE event, register for the annual conference, volunteer your time, join a committee or just share your thoughts with NACE and you WILL become an active part of charting the future.
Ironically, you don’t even have to use Bell (or Gray’s) invention to do so with e-mail, because phone calls are SO last century!
Chaim was a co-chair of the 2013-2014 NACE Principles for Professional Practice Committee and successfully completed NACE’s 2012-2013 Leadership Advancement Program. Find a listing of NACE committees on NACEWeb.