Ever ask yourself what is the most valuable resource on earth? I admit it is not a topic I spend a lot of time thinking about, but now and then I come across an article that speculates on the answer. A couple of decades ago, hands down, most people would have said oil is the most precious resource we have. The combustible engine was still king, and oil was critical to a functioning modern economy and to the ‘American way of life’ so to speak. The oil cartel in the 70s and 80s tried to cut supply and raise prices, and the result was a jolt to everybody’s pocketbook and a recession. The emergence of the environmental movement over the past 25 years led conventional wisdom to say that water was now the earth’s most precious commodity. Not just water, but specifically freshwater, because it is not only critical for life, but that freshwater is a key input for so much of our economic activity, for health care, and for virtually any human activity you can imagine. A few months ago, the Economist ran an article that suggested that data, that is information, had become the new “oil” (they skipped water altogether)! The personal information that has been captured from the proliferation of the internet now resides in the hands of some large firms, which are all growing richer every day, because of the power that this information gives them. At one time or another, all of these answers might have been correct. But my vote is elsewhere. To me, the most valuable resource is time. It is finite, and because of that, it forces us to make choices about how to use it. Unlike the other three, time is something each of us has a certain amount of control over. We can use it to learn, grow, mentor our friends and colleagues, raise families, and make our community better. Time is the distance between when we register a new student to the day he or she graduates. Time helps us heal from life’s disappointments and can be a pathway to a different and better future. If you have read this far, then I’ve probably already used up enough of your precious resource. Use your time wisely, be creative, and don’t make this resource go to waste. You are an asset to time.
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