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When you hear the word “hourglass” what do you think? What are the first thoughts and emotions that erupt inside you?

The thoughts and feelings are different for each of us. For some, this phrase evokes the memory of playing a boardgame that utilizes an hourglass timer, or possibly a primitive kitchen timer. And for many others, “like sands through the hourglass” we’re reminded of the days of our lives.

In its most practical application, the hourglass is simply an outdated tool for measuring a predetermined time period.

For the purpose of this article, let’s consider the hourglass as a representation of our lives. When the sand runs out … well, so does our time here on Earth. Unfortunately, we don’t have the pleasure of turning it over to start again.

The choices we have made will forever be the makeup of our lives. It remains our legacy, if you will. Today, we are blessed with the sand (time) that is left (an unknown amount of time) and we certainly can’t change the past.

So, what are we going to do with the remaining sand and the time we have left in our lives? Who will we help? What will we teach? And how will we be remembered? What will be our legacy?

Now, if you are young and reading this article, then the feelings are usually different than if you are older. It seems that as time passes by and the sand pile at the bottom of the hourglass gets larger, then what remains on top – our feelings – should change. If you weren’t already living your lives with a purpose greater than yourself, then I suggest it’s time to get after it.

When all is said and done, we only leave a couple truly important memories behind. Let’s get this straight, it’s not our bank account, house, business or lifestyle. It’s how we helped people. It’s how we responded to their needs. It’s how we reached out and asked how we could help ... and then actually did it. Simply put, it’s our actions that speak louder than anything. And for those with children, it’s the children who we raised and it’s how we made a difference in the lives of others. It’s how we behaved and who we mentored. I have been blessed to live a life that, by the grace of God, has been filled with mentors. They taught and continue to remind me to reach out and help others in my path. Some of these mentors just appear, while others I wasdetermined to meet and to learn from.

Recently, the ASCA had its annual educational conference and Executive Summit in Pittsburgh. For those who attended, I hope the time (sand) spent was of great value to you. Did you leave with a list of things to do when you got home to improve your business? Did you leave with new contacts to bounce ideas off of? Did you leave with a new friend/mentor or two? Some people to stay in touch to share and learn from and to help make the world a better place? For me, I was fortunate to leave with all the above.

As I ponder how to use the unknown time left in my hourglass, I have chosen to act on the list I made:

  • Stay in touch with those I met
  • Improve and modify my business plan based on conversations I had and notes I took
  • Don’t slow down or sit back, but rather lean in to the opportunities to make a difference and transform lives.
  • Remember, none of us really know when the last grain of sand will fall to the bottom of our hourglass.

    Bonus: While writing this piece I lost a very special friend to cancer. I also read the Book of James over and over for three weeks, which was a challenge from my friend and mentor, Pastor Terry Prisk. The outcome? The realization to make every single day special; live like it’s your last; be present and aware of how incredible the moment is; and to make a difference in the lives of others as if it was your last chance. Cheers and god bless.

    A 2010 Leadership Award recipient, Troy Clogg is the Founder and President of Troy Clogg Landscape Associates in Wixom, Mich., and a Snow Magazine contributing editor.