The Greek had two very different words for our word “time”. The first is the word “chronos” from which we get the English word chronology. It means times, dates, and places – regular time as we experience in western culture. The second word for time from the Greek is “kairos” where we get the phrase “kairotic moments” which means “the fullness of time”, “at the right time”, “at the appropriate time”. There are plenty of cultures around the globe which prefer this type of time.
So what? What does this have to do with business? I see at least two important reasons to think about these two types of time as it relates to you and your business.
First off, inside our walls, we tend to (over) value chronos time. Everything has to be planned, scheduled, calendarized, reduced to individual tasks, etc. And this isn’t bad, in fact, it’s necessary to a good degree to operate a business. But we have to realize that the marketplace outside of our walls is very kairotic. Consumers will be ready to adopt a new product or service when they will – not when we’re simply able to produce it.
Finally, there is a reason to think about our approach to time on an interpersonal level. As humans, we’re either oriented primarily as “chronos” people or “kairos” people. Chronos people like to get ahead of the game and pursue particular paths. They plan ahead to reduce their stress. People oriented in kairos, on the other hand, like to leave their options open and let the world unfold in front of them. They reduce their stress by creating contingency plans. The point is that neither one is “better” but that both are necessary to effectively plan and move organizations forward.
What kind of person are you? #TeamChronos or #TeamKairos. I’d love to know.