I have learned a lesson recently, timing is important, it is not just important but arguably the most important matter for success.
Act too soon or too late and you will most likely fail.
Greeks have this word called “Kairos”, in English one would translate it to time, but it has little to do with the time we measure with a clock. Kairos is the right time. Its the time where (not when) an opportunity is open for the grabs. Kairos does not care about minutes or hours or even seconds, he only cares about the circumstances, he has all the variables in their place, wants you to take the chance, and knows you will succeed.
There is an old Greek description of opportunities, it is said they are ladies comming down from the sky called, to catch one, you must grab her hair and pull her down, but she only has them on the front side of her head, so you can only grab her while she is coming, once she turns around, she is gone. I like this saying, but I feel there is something missing, you can see opportunities coming and all you have to do is catch them. It is lacking one important detail… Know-how I think there are tree prerequisites for an opportunity to be caught. After it’s been spoted. The right circumstances, the know-how, and the action.
Thats why I imagine opportunities a little bit more complex.
I like to think of opportunities as existing in another realm, that realm is a gargantuan dark maze with endless halls and gates. Wise old Kairos, lives in that maze. It is his home. He has knowledge of every passage, every corner and can open any gate without exception. He is King there. He passes his time by wandering through the maze and whistling very silently, eternally passing from gate to gate and closing them behind him. He is not alone however, we are all there with him, also wandering, unlike him though, we are lost. In this dark place we are blind. Our only light, the experience we gained from exploring the maze, and the errors we made by bumping on closed gates. If you haven’t figured out already, the gates are our opportunities. So as Kairos takes his walks in his maze whistling his song, if you happen to be close, and hear him, you can whistle with him, and follow him through a gate. That is how you get on the other side. You have to hear his song, understand it, and whistle it with him as you pass though the gates. He whistles silently though, sometimes you think you hear him but do not, sometimes he sings but you can’t hear him. There are times you need to take the chance, try to pass through the gate with the song you are hearing, be it Kairos or an illusion.
I have often made the mistake of not taking the chance, many times I waited next to the gate, afraid to walk through, afraid I would bump into it or of what I would find on the other side. But that denied me of valuable experience, I could have otherwise used the next time I saw an opportunity I wanted to take. Having taken these chances I would have been able to recognize the whistling of Kairos more accurately.
Nevertheless delaying has its merits. Knowing how to be patient and being able to wait for a better outcome, is as important as having the courage to take a chance.
Being able to delay an action for gratification, lets you have better control over yourself, and eventually over your life.
By being patient, one can observe when the time is best to walk through that gate, and find himself on the other side. Or even realize he didn’t want to go through in the first place.
By delaying you can gather more information and further analyze the problem, prepare yourself for the moment of action, plan for your success. Time can give you insight to the problem and often some experience. It will give you better understanding of how to solve it, and can it can move the circumstances from being bad or “ok” to being perfect.
Circumstances will not stay perfect though, after a while they will keep getting worse. Up to a point that action will bring almost certain failure. You see once Kairos closes the gate behind him it is insanely hard to squeeze through, most times impossible. And you never know when he decides to walk by again.
To give you a taste of how delay can bring better outcomes I will set this article as an example. I written a big chunk of it within a day, and I was eager to share it with the world, since I was writing about delay though I decided to wait. The next day ideas started puring in, the content and quality increased dramatically! After I waited for a week since the original writing, I decided there are not a whole lot more to add, so I published. Here is the article as it used to be if you are interested. Timing and Delay
So how do we know that time is right? When should we choose to act, and when should we delay our actions? Well the answer is not that simple. It all depends on your skill level, regarding the subject ofcourse. Novices should delay for as long as they can, explore their options, themselves and their environment before taking action. That is because a novice simply has no reference of which circumstances are right and how to use them effectively. When a novice takes an action prematurely it is almost guaranteed to fail. Therefore delaying an action comes at low cost, or even to a benefit at times. On the other hand experts will have an almost unexplainable knownledge of when the time is perfect to act. They will know because of their experience.
As pointed in the beggining of this article know-how is one of the crucial prerequesites for success. And experience is part of that, however it has to be coupled with observation, you have to spot the signs while knowing what they mean and how to use them. Then should act accordingly.
It is truly an art to know when the time is right, and as with any art, you need to practice. To master it you need experience. To gain experience however one needs to take chances. Live the life he is given. And learn from his mistakes.
Yes, delay, will give you a better understanding and some experience but nothings gives experience as the pure act of doing. But be ware you have to analyze the risks, is the experience gained worth more to you than the potential loss of failure?