Relationships, the currency of our time

By Elfarina Zaid, Faculty member for CTI & CRR Global


The first known currency - known as the Mesopotamian shekel - appeared 5,000 years ago.

Prior to the emergence of the currency of money, people were known to barter (offering something in exchange for another). In bartering the product and or service, it really is an exchange of value. If I value and need a certain herb for medicine because a family member is sick, I might just offer my day’s harvest for that single item.

In those barter days, we exchange this just in time. We have to show up to exchange for these goods. With money, we can now buy, trade, invest and exchange goods and services on one day, and really take advantage of the actual good or services sometime in the future. The value exchange can now be prolonged or harvested in the future rather than just in time, today.

On the currency of our time...

Robert Harris, a British Novelist wrote a quotable quote: "The true currency of life is time, not money, and we've all got a limited stock of that."

Most of us would agree for this to be true. Me included. Time is a precious commodity. Time is also a ‘just in time’ commodity. We all have to make the best use of our time today or it will be lost. One can argue that if you invest in your time well, you can most likely reap the rewards later. And it starts with us putting effort in valuing our time now and not ‘waste it’.

We buy products and services with our time, not just money. Want a bigger house and luxurious travel? Most of us will have to barter our time to achieve some of these dreams.

Time is important. So much so that in the world of business and leadership, billions of training spending has gone into effectiveness, priority management, productivity and how to be a better manager and leader.

The currency of our time = relationships

My sense though, if recent world pains - Covid, pro-humanity campaigns of diversity and inclusion - were to share some signals around how our complex world is emerging and shifting, we now have to start valuing not just our time, but also our relationships. 

Companies and leaders are perplexed about how to manage teams better with hybrid and work from home arrangements. With the lack of know-how to work in a different setting, our productivity, performance and economy is taking a hit.

Companies who had invested in building strong work cultures or leaders who have built the foundation of strong team dynamics reap the rewards in being resilient in spite of what is happening. On a personal level, we would never really know if another wave of Covid means the loss of our loved ones or those of our colleagues and friends.

Let’s go back to the barter analogy. From a leadership perspective, on any typical day of bartering, I can only imagine that if they have a strong relationship, the barter process might just be a lot smoother, fair and transparent. People might barter with people they like and trust, more often. Some may even ‘save the best harvest’ for you aside.

When we invest in our relationship, the value exchange can now be prolonged or harvested in the future rather than just in time, today.

I’ve read inspiring posts on LinkedIn around offering a helping hand to help a person in the network look for a new role. Or even companies who have managed to thrive during Covid thanking their team and business partners for the strong relationship and trust.

In times of change, business is more than a transaction, it is a relationship. In our times, the strength of our relationship(s) is the currency to help bring us through; to survive and thrive.

Originally posted on ElfarinaZ.

About the author

Elfarina Zaid lives and works at the intersection of coaching, leadership and innovation. She is a Team and Executive Coach, a faculty member for CTI & CRR Global. Plus the Managing Partner for CRR APAC, who organize the ORSC™ programs in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Australia & New Zealand. CRR APAC and their team have a long standing and strong relationship with Competence. Elfarina writes with a lens on why relationships matters for the sake humanizing organizations as a human growth partner. (Photo credits: SMU, office of alumni relations)

"When we invest in our relationship, the value exchange can now be prolonged or harvested in the future rather than just in time, today."
Elfarina Zaid | Faculty member for CTI & CRR Global | Team and Executive Coach.
Elfarina Zaid - 24 September 2021
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