Chronos vs. Kairos

For at least the last two years Mikel has been using the phrase “calendar time versus clock time. ” This phrase is often to remind me and others on our team that there are certain things that can take months or years to develop but require very few hours of direct labor. In essence, sometimes you simply must wait on the opportune moment, and then act accordingly.

Recently he found the Greek root words associated with this concept. I wanted to share and test the concept in writing.

“Chronos” – the idea of chronological or sequential passage of moments through time. This is close to what Mikel means when he uses “clock time” (I think… as an aside, maybe he should be the one writing this blog post!) ‘Chronos’ and ‘clock time’ may differ a bit in that sequence plays a bigger role in ‘chronos’ than does Mikel’s use of ‘clock time.’ I think Mikel means total hours logged on a project.

“Kairos” – the idea of the right, critical or opportune moment. The propitious moment. This is the inverse of Mikel’s ‘calendar time.’ If you can strike at the precise right moment you can be willing to wait months. Implementing this effectively is exponentially more valuable than slogging it out through time.

I really like these concepts. My experience tells me that excellence in your field comes from mastery of these aspects. I see this as a “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” sort of thing. You cannot save your way to wealth. It’s not a few pennies every day. You must create or capture. The circumstances are not always ripe. This is a game of intellect not brute force. But it’s also a little bit of both. Sun Tzu would say the ever present force of water that moves a boulder is about momentum. But the strike of a falcon is about timing.

At Little Engine Ventures I believe we are accumulating rivers that nuture falcons. If we optimize for low cumulative hours on individual projects and spread this procedure across a diverse set of projects we can increase the density of the kairos on the whole.

Sun Tzu would also say I should keep my mouth shut. Mikel can respond if I’ve misrepresented his concept. What are your thoughts?

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