Is time on your side?

personal development stoicism May 24, 2021
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Is time on your side?

It depends on what kind of time you’re talking about.

Time, like most things, is a construct. It's simply a story.

There's no agreement amongst physicists or philosophers about whether or not time is a fundamental absolute. Even amongst those who argue that time exists, there's wide disagreement about what it is and is not.

The ancient Greeks held space for different types of time. The most frequently referenced are Chronos (chronological time) and Kairos (the significance of a moment). Put simply, Chronos is quantitative, and Kairos is qualitative.

As difference-makers, both types of time are essential. Each informs and inspires the story we are living through our endeavors. Quantitative time allows for planning and doing. Qualitative time provides for insight and inspiration.

Another frame might be that although change happens over time, the ramifications of that change can be revealed in a single moment.

Chronological time can lull the aspiring difference-maker into a false sense of stability. Days pass, each looking more or less like the one that came before. We can be seduced by the sufficiency of the status quo. This can make it hard to recognize a propitious moment.

It often takes a critical moment to wake us up from the stupor of Chronos to the insight of Kairos. The ancient Greeks had a name for this also, Krisis.

The inherent contradictions and confusion within a crisis can wake us up to the opportunity for an epiphany (another ancient Greek term related to time). In a moment of epiphany, something is suddenly revealed with luminous clarity.

Yes, time is a story, and the stories we tell about time are powerful tools. The thing about tools is they can be used by us or on us (and frequently, both are going on at the same time).

So, is time using you, or are you using time? Rather than wait for a crisis, how can you encourage a moment of epiphany that creates possibility?

Scott Perry, Difference-Maker Coach at Creative on Purpose.

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