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 feed, 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.

3 thoughts on “Kairos”

  1. Awesome post April! IMO, You’ve revealed the “secret” to avoiding burnout. Having a sense of purpose, putting the “compass before the clock”, and practicing balanced self-renewal (mental, spiritual, social, and physical).

  2. Pingback: Keating or Roark: How do you drive change? « Engine For Change

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