We are obsessed with time in the modern world.
We go to great lengths to save as much of it as we can. If you look at the tech devices you own and the apps on your phone, you may be shocked at how many of them are designed to do one thing: save time.
Sometimes we get lost in our own perceptions. That’s why it’s helpful to see how other cultures look at things differently.
The ancient Greeks had two different words for the concept of time: chronos and kairos. You probably recognize the word chronos as the root for the English words “chronological” and “chronicle.” It refers to measured, ticking, quantitative time.
Chronos is the forward-propelling time that we measure with clocks, watches, and even the evolutionary phases of the moon. But time does not end there.
The second ancient Greek word for time, kairos, is lesser known but no less important. Kairos is what many philosophers and mystics refer to as “deep time.” It’s the time we’re talking about when the world seems to stop entirely.
It can be measured in deep exhales, a shared laugh, or a colorful sunset. Kairos is qualitative time where you can move forward in the present, untethered by any clock or calendar.
Pursuing Kairos Moments
Franciscan friar and author Richard Rohr refers to kairos as those moments in life that take your breath away.
– “Oh, my God. This is it. I get it.”
– “This is as perfect as it can be.”
– “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
We all know those moments, don’t we? They may be few and far between but sometimes a kairos moment can feed your soul for months. There is an element of serendipity, a feeling of seizing an opportunity. Those are precious moments when time stands still, and everything feels possible.
When you find yourself in kairos time, you completely lose track of chronos time. A state of flow is activated, and it cannot be measured. It can only be experienced.
All time is not created equal. When an artistic person is in their self-discovery or self-learning process, ten hours can feel like a hundred. They will be exhausted as if they have been learning a new language.
The creative process is not like walking or breathing, which you do in an unconsciously competent state. They don’t require as much energy as when you are learning something for the first time. When you are in kairos time, you are consciously incompetent.
In other words, you’re in learning mode because you’re aware of what you don’t know.
As I think about my career, much of it has been devoted to giving people kairos moments–ones where time slows down and you are engaging your creative sensibilities.
The Care and Feeding of Artists
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, writes
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
I love this quote because it translates to every successful Business Artist, especially if they work in a company that is on the nonlinear path from passion to process. In this type of culture, the creative energy that was once celebrated is now seen as a distraction to the mission now at hand.
You would be hard-pressed to find leaders in a company who would argue against more creativity and artistry. Most people understand the value of creative thinking. The problem comes when you have to allocate real time, money, and resources to help people be more creative.
Creativity cannot be relegated to a thirty-minute block between Zoom calls. People need space to think, learn, and iterate on products and projects.
Sellers in particular need to be given this space and freedom. They are not coin-operated machines who can endlessly spit out results. They can produce on demand for a while, but just like any other artist, they need care and feeding.
As a Business Artist, are you giving yourself permission to enter into kairos moments where time stands still and you are in the creative zone?