Category Archives: Time

Timing is Everything

Your perspective on time is vital to the way you make decisions and lead your life. Right now your mind is looking to the past for viable solutions or monitoring present resources or scanning the future for new opportunities. You’re shaped by your focus on what’s gone by, what’s here now, or what’s coming next.


The MindTime Project has devoted two decades to studying these three time perspectives. They’ve derived a simple diagnostic tool that can pinpoint your time perspective in less than a minute.

Try it. Are you a past thinker, a present thinker, or a future thinker?

Past thinkers gather as much data as possible and are concerned with accuracy and truth. They refuse to take anything at face value. Refusing to trust that “everything will work out,” they attempt to reduce the risk of negative outcomes. They are reflective.

Present thinkers take action and seek control over unfolding events. They abhor chaos and confusion and are driven to establish balance and order, create structure, and get things done. They are practical.

Future thinkers are open to possibilities. They seek out new opportunities and intuit what the future will bring. They are visionaries who promote their visions with enthusiasm and energy. They push the limits of what is known and understood. They are imaginative.

Understanding where you stand on the time horizon is enlightening, but the big payoff comes when you interact with others. For example, I’m a future thinker. That explains why I get upset with Past thinkers who slam me for not providing footnotes and with Present thinkers who want to hold up the show for something I consider inconsequential. The MindTime Framework helps me understand where the others are coming from and appreciate how to work with them.

mindtime(image Copyright 2009 MIndTime)

MindTime can create maps of your organization that reveal the invisible thinking forces that are moving you forward or holding you back. You saw such a map of Chief Learning Officer readers who took the time Profile earlier. How well do you get along with this group? Think about it at the next CLO Symposium.

A landmark study by ASTD and IBM interviewed CLOs and CxOs at 26 leading companies across 11 industries (see The C-level and the Value of Learning, T+D magazine, October 2005). Reading between the lines, the CXOs appear to be Future thinkers; the CLOs are Past and Present thinkers.

C-level officers want their CLO to build the foundation for transforming the company not just to get people up to speed on today’s needs.

The researchers asked how the learning function contributed value to three strategically important business needs: accelerating growth, enabling transformation, and increasing productivity.

The CLOs reported that most learning was technical and focused on skills; training enables the organization to operate. The CxOs said they expected CLOs to lead, not respond. CxOs saw learning as the major investment in driving their businesses forward. Quotations from the study highlight the gap between the two groups’ expectations.

CxOs said,

“The learning function has to become more strategic, otherwise it is an unaffordable luxury.”

“Learning has to bring customers and along the change journey. It has to build the platform to enable us to change the business.”

“CLOs need to build capabilities to address future challenges of the enterprise.”

CLOs said,

“The strategic value of learning is to reduce the cost of turnover and increased employee engagement.”

“The business plan for learning ties directly to business unit goals. Also incorporate our roll-up of individuals’ development plans.”

“CLOs are focused on performance and talent issues related to the current needs of business units.”

Now that you know your time perspective, MindTime suggests you think about your role in your organization. How can you make your particular way of thinking an asset to the group and a contribution to the greater purpose? By being aware of your creative role.

Your thinking style tells you where to look for your most important gift — and what you have to offer others. Vision truth, and productivity: these are the universal values that make a company effective.

For a management team to be successful, each value must be present and respected:

If you are a Future thinker, your role is to carry the vision and ensure that your group embraces innovation, creativity, and receptivity to change.

If you are a Past thinker, your role is to gather true and accurate information and make sure the group considers it carefully.

If your a Present thinker, your role is to help things get moving, and your focus is on planning, low, and harmony.


cloAn edited version of this article appears in the December 2013 issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine.

Gmail time saver

Gmail will automatically categorize your incoming email:



95% of the email I care about lands in “Primary.” There’s occasionally something of interest in “Forums.” I can safely avoid reading almost everything else. More time! Whoopee!

Time Reborn



Time Reborn by Lee Smolin

After reading The Quotable Einstein, I would blithely say that “Time is an illusion although it’s an annoyingly persistent one.” Lee Smolin has convinced me otherwise.

Time is very real. Everything exists in time.

Things that are timeless do not exist. Everything happens in its moment(s). Virtues, values, and other things exist only in the context of time. Eternal truths are mythological.

As Smolin writes, “This is a book for everyone,  because there is no one whose thinking about the world is not shaped by how they see time.”

This is a tremendously liberating concept. As Stanley Kauffman proposes, “Evolutionary dynamics are the exploration in time by the biosphere of what can happen next: the ‘adjacent possible.’ The same goes for the evolution of technologies, economies, and societies.” In other words, there’s room for everything to get better. Nothing’s holding us back.

Notable quotes:

If we hadn’t descended from people who, hundreds of thousands of years ago, imagined ways to harness fire, we would still be prey.

This is the grand bargain of human life: to thrive on the cusp of uncertainty. We thrive on the boundary between opportunity and danger and live with the knowledge that we can’t control everything or keep bad stuff from happening every now and then.

Imagination enabled us to turn change and surprise into opportunities to extend our domain across the planet.

If we persist in living outside time, we will not surmount the unprecedented problems raised by climate change.

We have reached the limits of the usefulness of the idea that were separate from nature.

The false idea we have to put behind us is the idea that what is bound in time is an illusion and what is timeless is real. We need to eliminate the idea that anything is, or can be, timeless.

We need a new philosophy, one that anticipates the merging of the natural and the artificial by achieving a consilience of the natural and social sciences, in which human agency has rightful place in nature.

On every scale, from an atom’s quantum state to the cosmos, and at every level of complexity, from a photon make in the ear;y universe and winging its way toward us to human personalities and societies, the key is time and the future is open.




My grandfather’s watch

danswatchMy grandfather’s watch. Still keeping good time. W.H. Cross, 1890-1984.

My father’s father fought in World War I (by lying that he was older) and World War II (by pointing out that he was younger).

His father fought in the Civil War by virtue of being an underage Confederate recruit in the final days who sired children late in life.

I’m studying time. Specifically, our orientation to time. Fascinating stuff.



I’m struggling to read this pop physics text but it has my head spinning. Challenging for a non-scientist like me even though Smolin thoughtfully shields us from the math. I’ll provide a review shortly. The first and last chapters are worth a read.

Short review: Time is real. Seize the moment. Be existential.