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There Is No Hand To Catch Time

There is no hand to catch time

A young girl called Mary from a poor background won a scholarship to an elite school. Many of the pupils and teachers were rather particularly patronising to her. In one of her classes Miss Smith asked the class to list the seven wonders of the world. The class started writing down their choices.

Miss Smith looked around the class and saw all the pupils writing away, but not Mary. She asked, “Mary is everything ok?”. Mary said, “There is just so many to choose from”. Miss Smith said patronisingly, “Just list your top seven”. Miss Smith gave it a couple of more minutes and asked the class to stop. She noticed Mary was still writing, and asked Mary if she was having trouble with her list. Mary replied, “Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there were so many.” Miss Smith said, “Well, write what you have, and maybe we can all help you a little later.”

Mary said ok, and finished. Miss Smith picked up all the papers and started going through them. The lists from all she read were:

  1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids
  2.  The Taj Mahal in India
  3. The Grand Canyon in Arizona
  4. The Panama Canal
  5. The Empire State Building
  6. St. Peter’s Basilica
  7. China’s Great Wall

Miss Smith said “Very well done children. Now let’s see what Mary wrote” and Miss Smith read Mary’s first line out loud, “I think the Seven Wonders of the World are…Oh look!” – said Miss Smith with a laugh – “Mary has crossed out that there are seven wonders in the world and has now made 9.” The class laughed. However, when Miss Smith looked down the list, she stopped laughing and said “Children stop laughing as Mary has taught us a very special lesson today…”

“I want you to listen very carefully to Mary’s list and we will learn something extraordinary today. Mary has written for us the real wonders of this life, this time, this world. Things I never want you to forget. Mary tells us the real wonders of this world are:

  1. to touch…
  2. to taste…
  3. to see…
  4. to hear…
  5. to feel…
  6. to laugh…
  7. and to love.

And Mary has two extra wonders for us because of COVID-19

  • To hug other people
  • To be with other people

Ms Smith was amazed. Then she said “Children this is a great reminder to all of us that the things we overlook as simple and ordinary are often the most wonderful wonders we have and – in ‘lockdown travel’-we don’t have to go anywhere special to experience them. They live within all us all the time, and we should appreciate and use them more”. Miss Smith looked and Mary and said “Class stand and we will all applaud Mary for teaching us something very important today. That is: To use all the special wonders we have been given free, and to use them wisely for ourselves and others”.

A listener sent me the above story, originally told by Joy Wasson over 30 years ago.  I have changed it for today’s circumstances. I like the story because too often we are in the pursuit of future material possessions or running from past regrets that we forget to enjoy the now.

We forget that life has to be experienced in its totality.

You know if we embrace life and live more in the now, we will simply be amazed at the wonders around us. We must live more in the present moment as we are only here for a little time. I remember a very wise woman giving me some great coaching advice once:

“Everybody, from time to time, should take a step back and watch themselves go by.”

Questions this coaching poses are:

Would I be surprised or distraught by what I would see? Am I person I think I am?

So I suggest to you that from time to time, you should take a step back and watch yourself and see if you are the person you want to be!

I read about so many inspiring stories and I am lucky enough as a coach to meet so many inspiring people. People who climb out of the ashes of disaster and rebuild their life to one of greatness. These stories offer us all hope and inspiration and show us that we have so much living to do.

I have one for you that stands out in my mind today in relation to what we are talking about. Let me introducing Brendon Burchard. Brendon was on death’s door after a car accident at the age of 19, and three questions inspired him to look at his life at such a young age:

Did I live?
Did I love?
Did I matter?

Three powerful questions that really make you sit up and think. Follow these with: What are you here for? Are you loving fully in every moment? Why are you waking up each day? Are you living a relevant life?

I invite you to do just that today and to start with three trigger questions below.

THE MENTAL FILTER – 3 things to consider

  1. Where will my life be in one, five or ten years if I continue doing what I am doing today?
  2. What is my why?
  3. What am I grateful for?

I can take you to success. I coach ordinary people every day to do extra-ordinary things. I coach extra-ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things. The difference is those who have a dream, and are prepared to follow said dream, are extraordinary, and just need a structure and support system to kick off that journey, which will finish with them sliding in fast sideways to the grave, totally worn out from the relentless living of their dreams, screaming out loudly “Wow holy sh*t, what a ride!”

If that is you – start today! If you are looking for coaching on change for yourself or your organisation, or would like more information on the work we do on Personal, Professional, or Organisational Change, please contact us on

About Dr Maurice Duffy

Irish. Author, Professor, Coach and Business strategist. The person Australian Captain Steve Smith credited with helping him back from his cricket ban. Coach to two Ashes wins. Coach to CEOs, Politicians and some of the best know international sports starts including Olympians. BBC ‘Thought for the Week’. Coached business leaders and organizations in 80 countries. Works with charities to do with Mental Health. Lives in North East England with his wife and 11-year-old son.