Don't let a second go unappreciated

Column by Michael Norton


Have you ever paid attention when someone is counting for a specific purpose or during a game or competition, and as they near the point of where they are counting towards, there is a discernable difference in the tonality and pace? If they are counting to 10 for instance it may sound something like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 888, 999999, 10.

What is it about the approach to those final numbers that has us draw them out, elongate them for dramatic purposes? We could be counting to 10, 50, 100, or any number for that matter, and just as we get close for some reason we end up with 95, 96, 9777, 988888, 999999999, 100. It's not even the final number that gets the extra emphasis, I mean when we hit 10 or 100 we just say that number sharply and crisply, with absolute finality.

It even happens when we do a countdown and reverse the order, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 333, 222222, 1111111, 0! Almost as if we are trying to extend or expand a timed event or task. I know it makes it fun during games and competitions, especially when we are surrounded by our friends and family and enjoying our time together while we play.

I like those other numbers too, all of those in-between numbers. I like thinking about how I can make every second count. There are 86,400 seconds in each day, and it's the same for each and every one of us. During a recent workout I noticed that I was actually counting my repetitions in much the same way I described above. Particularly when I was doing a particular exercise and had to hold a position for a specified period of time. As I was counting down in my head and neared the number zero, I literally found myself extending the final numbers just so I could work a little harder. Of course, I could have just as easily kept counting, but the effect of drawing out the countdown to zero seemed to motivate me just a little more.

How many times during our day do we either rush to have our workday come to an end, wishing the seconds and minutes would tick by just a little faster? It's almost like we are counting them, either counting them up or counting them down, but we are watching the clock either way. And it could also happen as we wish the evening chores would go by faster or our workouts would be over sooner. What would happen if we stopped wishing for our 86,400 seconds to fly by us each day and we focused on making the most out of every one of the seconds we are so blessed to enjoy?

During the rush and crush of our lives it is so easy to get wrapped up in the moments that we forget seconds. And each second is so valuable. Just ask a professional football player or basketball player if they can win a game with only three seconds left on the game clock. Watch as top chefs compete on some of the Food Network shows like “Chopped” or “Master Chef” and how much they can accomplish in the final 30 seconds as they complete their dishes.

Instead of counting up to a final number or counting down to zero, and instead of just emphasizing those final few seconds, try to remember just how important every second is and think of ways that you can and will make every second count.

Are you managing the clock to maximize every second, or winning the game in the final three seconds with a “buzzer beater” all too often? Either way I would love to hear all about it at, and I hope this will be a better than good week for you.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of


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