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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)

TITLE: Take a Deep Breath
By Hiram Claudio


The office was as frenzied as ever. People were moving from one part to the other. Office machines churning and whirling. Phones were ringing while conversations of differing volumes created a hum that could be felt. If you looked at the floor from above, it would resemble an ant colony.

At the center was Tony, the VP for Sales. He set the pace for the way things worked. He was as achievement oriented as anyone. He wanted to get things done and hating wasting anything, especially time. He could always be counted on to make things stretch. Get paper supplies designed to last 2 weeks to last a month. Get 2 people to do the work of 4 and so on.

Susan, Tony’s executive assistance, was very good at her job, especially at keeping up with her boss. Tony approached her desk in a panic.

“We need EIGHT copies of the budget report for today’s meeting and WE ONLY HAVE FIVE!”

Susan looked at him, paused, and said, “Remember, it’s not how many of what you have but what you do with them that counts.”

She then explained how one of the attendees always brings their laptop so an electronic copy will do for them and another was coming from the Honduran office so it would have to be translated anyway. Then she reminded him that one of the eight was her, who wrote the report, so she didn’t need one.

She said, softly “So calm down.” He just walked away.

30 minutes later she went into his office. He was reviewing the report.

“This is going to be a disaster.” He moaned. “We forecasted we would generate 20 new locations in the Midwest last year. We only generated 15. How am I going to hide that?”

She looked at him, again paused, and reminded him, “But the reason you called for 20 new locations was so that it would create $3 million in new sales. Yes, there were only 15 new locations, but those 15 generated $3.6 million.”

He looked up. She continued, “So it’s not how many of what you have but what you do with them that counts.” She smiled. “Tony, don’t you realize that you’ve been given all you need? Talent, resources, time … it’s all there. Stop getting yourself so upset about wishing you had ‘more’ or ‘other’ and just use what you have wisely. Let God take care of the rest.”

He looked up and replied, “Aren’t you the philosopher today? Where’s all coming this from?”

“I met a friend a few weeks ago near that coffee shop on 5th and Walker.” She recounted. “A simple woman but filled with good things to say. She’d be the first to tell me that having more doesn’t mean better or of greater value. Do your best with what you have. Truth is, sometimes the best thing to ‘do’ is to just ‘be’ … yourself.”

He thought to himself, “Not a bad way to look at things. I do have enough to make it. Just take what I’ve been given and be smart with it. I do obsess about having enough of this or that don’t I?”

He stood up in his office and looked out the window. It was spring time. He stared at the few trees on the busy city street that were budding. He eyed a nest of Robins in one of them. He noticed he felt … better.

Just then, Bill, the VP for Finance rushed into his office. “What are you doing?” He said in a short and bothered tone. “I’m looking out the window” Tony replied.

“But we have budget meeting today. You’re the main presenter. Shouldn’t you be getting ready?” Bill snapped back. “I am” Tony Responded.

“I’m realizing just how great a job our team has done and how I need to emphasize that to the board.” “But you should be preparing somehow” Bill’s voice became shrill.

“I know” Tony said. Bill, trying to calm himself, said, “You only have a few minutes.” Tony assured him, “It’s not how many of what you have that counts but what you do with them. Besides, I am getting ready.”

Bill answered, “How?” Tony replied, after a pause, “By taking these few minutes and doing what is most essential in life. Breathing … and being thankful that I can!”

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Member Comments
Member Date
diana kay03/11/11
perfect! on topic down to the last minute :-) it reflects a topical and relevant issue and will strike a chord with many!
Dawn Fabre03/11/11
What a wonderful message. Well structured!
Jennifer Hill03/16/11
Less is more, unless it's God! I loved the use of topic. I think if you break up your dialogue between characters by keeping their lines separate it would make it easier to read-easier to keep straight who is talking. Keep writing!!!
Verna Mull 03/16/11
I loved every "minute" of this. Great job, and should make all of us stop and smell the roses.