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  • Writer's pictureDel Chatterson

Best Advice Ever

Best Advice Ever

And it still applies - Don’t Waste Time!

One of the bizarre side effects of the economic shutdown and being told to self-isolate and work from home is that the pressure to be productive and meet deadlines seems to have evaporated. The sense of urgency has dissipated. Everybody is preoccupied with the pandemic and keeping themselves safe more than meeting their obligations at work.

With lots of time to ourselves, procrastinating is easy. Nobody’s watching. Who cares anyway? It can wait until we’re more in the mood for it. It’s a bad attitude and a bad work habit to get into.

This article from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY, is a timely reminder to make better use of the time available to you, pandemic or not.

The Best Advice I Ever Got

In three words: DON’T WASTE TIME.

In providing the following background story, I may appear to be ignoring that advice by taking more time to write about it and requiring you to take more time to read about it.

But the advice is really about making choices on how to use the limited time available in one lifetime. It does not exclude learning, relaxing, or quiet contemplation instead of continuous frantic activity. In this case, I am choosing to reinforce the message and help make it memorable by telling the story (in keeping with the theme of the book). You may choose to read it for the same reasons.

I was at UBC in Vancouver in 1964, my first year in Engineering. All first-year engineers were given the Engineering Handbook providing all the advice and information we needed to successfully complete the following four years of study. The book was full of useful material and started with welcoming comments from the Dean of Engineering, the University President and other dignitaries with all the usual flowery clichés expected in these messages.

One page was reserved for Steve Whitelaw, President of the Engineering Undergraduate Society. Steve was a popular President with a reputation as a very bright, creative leader. That reputation was based on his leadership in a number of engineering student stunts that made the national news, like the time they kidnapped another university’s mascot or hung a VW beetle from the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

His biggest coup was bringing to a conclusion the long campus debate over some weird concrete modern-art sculptures that appeared one-year on compass. They had received the scorn and contempt of ‘ignorant and uncultured’ engineering students, but were vigorously defended by the arts faculty and administration.

The intensity of the debate exploded on campus and in the local newspapers on the day the engineers went on a rampage and completely destroyed all the sculptures leaving them in heaps of broken concrete and steel. That’s when Steve finally advised everyone that the engineers had built and installed them all in the first place.

So his advice in the Engineering Handbook would have attracted our attention. It was a blank page with his signature and just three words:


Call it leading by example.

Be better. Do better.

And take care of each other,

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Read more in Uncle Ralph's books of advice for Entrepreneurs: Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

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