Clock, by Gerald Murphy, Dallas Museum of Art
Time is all in your head, but it’s vital to the way you lead your life.
“The distinction between past, present, and future is
only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Albert Einstein
If that’s not confusing enough, Clockwork Time is morphing into Network Time. Young people don’t wear wristwatches. Consider these anachronisms:
The Eight-Hour Day equated time passed with work accomplished. Today getting the job done is more important than how long it took to do it.
Daily Newspapers are toast; they only print “old news.”
Annual Reports are useless because investment decisions are instantaneous.
One-hour Lectures are folly, for students lack that long an attention span.
Clockwork Time focuses on isolated events. When did X happen?
Furthermore, as everything in the world becomes more densely interconnected, time itself is speeding up. More happens in one of your minutes than in one of your grandmother’s hours. The production of knowledge is increasing exponentially.
As Stewart Brand has observed, different sectors have different rates of change. Time passes slower on a desert island than on Seventh Avenue. Stewart writes “02013” instead of “2013” to focus us on the 10,000 years of human civilization and the next 10,000 ahead.
You can feel the speed-up, right? Remember waiting to receive a letter from the Post Office? Or how slow email feels compared to text?
Some of us are thinking fast while others are thinking slow:
Put a marshmallow in front of a four-year old. Tell her you have to go for a few moments but that when you return, if the marshmallow is still there, you’ll give her another one.
Kids who eat the marshmallow are living in the now, without regard to future consequences. Those who wait are future-oriented.
Twelve years later, the kids who ate the marshmallow are more likely to be moody and indecisive; the future-oriented kids are cooperative and confident. They score 200+ points higher on the College Boards. Time orientation matters.
In my next post, I’ll describe how time orientation matters, how to measure yours, and how to put time on your side in your organization.
For your own sake, don’t eat your marshmallow until you read the next post.
Here’s some more information about time for those of you who have a hard time waiting.