Kairos

Just last week I learned that the ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos (the unfeeling time that flies by before us) and kairos (the human time of creating an opportunity for something important).

Often each week I’m asked how I get so much done.  I used to reply with a shrug of my shoulders.  Now I reply, “kairos.”

In the last week I prepared a command-wide presentation for our top executives, supported my son (he’s 2-and-a-half years old) through his fourth emergency brain surgery of the year, ran a half marathon, orchestrated a 70-person off-site session, attended a retirement celebration and an Elks club spaghetti field, worked four days (plus 2 hours on the weekend) and read two books.  Oh, and I blogged some too and did four loads of laundry.  I also read books to my children every night, helped them with their prayers and kissed them before they went to bed.  And, I think I got in a snuggle while watching a movie with my husband.

I get so much done because I am constantly making time work for me.  Now, granted, I’ve been practicing at this for years and I’ve got some natural energy that I attribute to a genetic gift from my grandmother, but I also look at time as kairos not chronos.  Time doesn’t control me. Time works for me.

Whether you read Covey’s words about “first things first” or Drucker’s Effective Executive, the gurus tell you that harnessing your time to your purposes is the sure route to improving your performance and gaining the success you desire.  They believe in the power of kairos.

I think Peter Senge would tell you that you have a flawed mental model if you only assume time is chronos.  Break that mental model.  Add kairos to time and see what happens after you believe that you can create time.

Seek out kairos.  You’ll be surprised how much time you find.

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Do you know the 7 Habits?

I’ll admit I’m a fan of Covey’s 7 habits.  I’m a fan for two reasons, 1) the habits seem to work as advertised and 2) most people have heard of the 7 habits, making the habits a ready language for discussing personal and organizational improvements.

Do you know the 7 habits?

If you don’t, or even if you need a refresher, don’t turn to most of the glossy Covey-adoration pages.  Instead, Rogue Polymath has posted a short outline of the 7 habits of highly effective people, expertly condensing the habits into ready to use bites.

If you know the 7 habits, but are struggling to apply them, do you feel like you’re the only one struggling?  Don’t worry; you’re not.  We all struggle with applying the habits.  The habits aren’t a road to perfection; they’re just excellent tips for how you may, if you choose, organize your life to get more of what makes you happy more often for many more years. And, who wouldn’t want that?

At the end of his post, Rogue Polymath asks:

Anyone have a personal story of how the seven habits have made a
positive affect on their lives?

Here’s one of my 7 habits stories: I often neglect the restful parts of Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.

Though habit 7 isn’t an encouragement to do more, I often read it that way.  More reading. More exercise. More something.

Instead, I should read it as a prompting to do more of what matters when it most matters, so I’ll be at my best when the big challenges come.  I often forget the part encouraging me to lay up stores of energy, or rest, or whatever, so that I can be ready for the next sprint.  I need to learn that rest sharpens my saw.

Learning my lesson, I’m going to devote the remainder of tonight to rest, something I don’t get enough of, and often don’t allow myself enough of.  Good night my readers!  I’m off to rest.

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It’s the journey

I’m typically an impatient person. But tell me a good story about an incredible (or even a mildly interesting) journey and I will sit in rapt attention. For example, I never get bored reading, watching or listening to anything about Lewis and Clark’s journey to the Pacific ocean.

I think my fascination with any journey is why I love driving change.

I once thought (and my naive’ reading of many business books led me to believe) that change is a near instantaneous process of: Boss reads a book Monday,  implements changes on people Tuesday, is showered with praise from now cheerful people Wednesday, gets big promotion to corporate headquarters Thursday and is celebrated at farewell party Friday.

Turns out, it doesn’t usually work that way.

When I was slogging through a partially successful (and terribly slow) implementation of Theory of Constraints or failing at my first Guiding Coalition attempt, I didn’t realize that I was on a journey.

Now that I’m older and wiser, and know how to drive change (versus drive people to change), I enjoy the journey and–surprisingly enough–I drive a whole lot faster toward my destination.

Plus, now when I hit a snag, a pothole or a tree, I don’t get discouraged.

Those things happen on a journey.

So I pick myself, look around for what or who I’ve still got with me and–most importantly–keep going.

[How do I do this?  I can’t quickly explain, so I’ll borrow some pictures. Think Jim Collins’ flywheel and Stockdale Paradox mixed with Stephen Covey’s  Be Proactive and Circle of Influence.]

I won’t say today that I’ve really reached the destination of my journey.

I’m not quite ready to yell with Clark, “Ocean in view!”

But…if I tilt my head and take a deep breath, I can smell the scent of salt water a little ways off; and now and then I’ve seen a few gulls fly overhead.  So, I keep driving.

If you love a good journey, consider driving change.

If you love a good journey story, keep checking this blog.  I have a few good journey stories to share.

If you’ve got a journey story you want to tell, let me know. I’ll consider posts from guest bloggers.

Keep driving your change, maybe that ocean is closer than you think.

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