I have only been a dad for ten years so I have a lot to learn, but one thing I have already learned is that “quality time over quantity time” is not true. Many have used the cliché to encourage busy parents (like me) not to feel guilty about the lack of time with our kids because, well, it is “the quality of the time that really matters.” Not true. I just spent four days with my oldest daughter on this year’s “Daddy/ Daughter trip.” The trip is something we have done for the last six years, and since I was speaking in Southern California, we decided to add a few days to the trip. Our time together reminded me of the importance of quantity time. Here are three reasons why the cliché minimizing the importance of quantity time is just not true:
1) Quantity time shows what we value.
Imagine if I came home from work and proudly exclaimed to Kaye or my daughters that “we have 30 minutes set aside for quality time!” Would they feel loved and valued when I gave myself fully to everyone else the other hours in the day? Of course not. It’s ridiculous to even think so. How we invest our time shows what we really value.
The same is true for leaders. If you don’t give time to those you lead, they will not feel appreciated or valued.
2) Quantity time creates trust and vulnerability.
I took Eden to Disneyland California Adventure, and there were no more fast passes available which meant a two hour wait. Two hours! We stood in line and played “Would you rather?” which led to other important conversations. Quantity of time creates trust and vulnerability that cannot be microwaved.
The same is, of course, true in leadership. Teams that have labored alongside one another through good and bad seasons share a level of trust that is sacred and special.
3) Quantity time creates quality time.
One of the most “quality time” moments I shared with Eden last week was over a burger (she loves burgers) at a restaurant known for great burgers in Hollywood. Before we ate, we walked a few blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and looked at the famous stars on the ground, the stars that have names of celebrities engraved in them. I did not know all the names and Eden had heard of very few. So while we ate we talked about how many of the things we pursue in this life don’t matter. We talked about Ecclesiastes 1 and about a famous poem by C.T. Studd: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” It was the most significant conversation of the trip, but significant conversations typically don’t happen on command. They happen in the midst of quantity time. I long for those quality moments with my daughters, and they most often come when the moments are plenty.
And the same is true when leading others. Often the best direction and the most important decisions come when the quantity of time creates the culture where they occur naturally.