Sale bargain, or are you losing out?

time value

At this time of year it is traditional to shop. The sales are on. It’s customary to scour the high street for bargains. To surf the online super highway for money off deals. We like getting something for nothing it seems; or maybe it’s the sense that we have outdone our fellow shoppers, beaten them to the bargain?

The irony is we can spend a lot of time looking for the deals. Some even queue. For hours. I wonder if we put a price on our time and, if we do, is the deal as worthwhile?

What’s an hour worth to you?
How would you judge?
Your hourly pay rate?

If you live to 75 years, you have a total of around 650,000 hours in your life.

What’s an hour worth to you now?

Is that deal still a bargain now?


the asterisked correlation

communication pace of life correction text

The growth of text talk has seen the rise of another phenomenon. That of the second text. The text that follows, moments later, containing an asterisk and a single word.

The *correction text

The sender has realised after hitting SEND that they have made a typo, or that predictive text… hasn’t.

Since when did we start communicating in a manner where, checking what we were saying after we had said it, was the norm?

Perhaps it is a reflection of the speed of our lives that we are so keen to press send, to move on, to get to the next thing that we just accept the need to be brief, to rush, the need for pace in everything. Taking our time seems unfashionable.

It has been said that as much as 90% of our communication is non verbal. Yet we have embraced the hurried text, the garbled few words typed whilst walking down the street; the hastily thrown response, punched out with a single thumb whilst holding on to the handle on the swaying bus; the abbreviated language, peppered with emoticons, which seeks to communicate fully to another human being.

Maybe we would do well to slow down here? To reflect on the emotion we are trying to convey. To stand in the shoes of the recipient, interpreting this stream of characters and letters without the advantage of seeing our faces, hearing the tone of our voice, seeing our smile…

Walk along any busy street these days and we are all nose deep in our phones, communicating constantly. I was told recently that more people in the world have access to a mobile phone than have access to a toilet. More communication than ever before. Always on. Global.

Yet perhaps the quality of that communication has suffered at the hands of the quantity?

Time perhaps to reflux?



making meaning from now

making meaning from now
The concept of ‘now’ intrigues me.

I have always considered myself someone who is very present, in the moment, in the ‘now’. But reading something in a book by Steve Chapman the other day, gave me a different language to describe it. This is what I took from what I read…

Time as we know it, is a social construction, a human invention, something that over many centuries we have honed and agreed universally as a good way of orienting ourselves to movements of the solar system, and to getting to our next meeting on time!

The most obvious ever-present reminders of the concept of time, are the clock and the calendar.  These have developed over centuries from lunar calendars to solar calendars, sundials etc… to, I guess, the i-watch.

This clock time, or chronos time – the on going perpetual march of seconds, minutes, hours – ticks away on our watches, clocks and electronic systems all over the world.

Daniel Stern argues that if chronos time were real, then the moment of ‘now’ would be so fleeting that we would never be able to dwell on it long enough to make meaning of the experience.  We would in effect be goldfish, with each ‘now’ moment lasting +/- one second; the unit of chronos.

The Greek concept of kairos offers an alternative perspective. Kairos is a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative, permanent nature. In kairos there are no seconds, minutes, hours, just the idea that kairos time is a passing moment of consciousness, in which something happens that offers us new meaning in our experience.

The author of my book summarises the two like this…

chronos time is a concept informed by clocks
kairos time is a concept informed by meaning

What would happen in organisations if we abandoned chronos time and just interacted, communicating, learning, until a new collective meaning emerged?

Meetings wouldn’t have agenda items with start and end points, but each item would be explored until collective new meaning emerged. Some agenda items might take five minutes, some items ten times as long.

Of course for this to work, people need to be open to learning, open to having generative conversations, open to enquiry with others as to where collective meaning existed, or was lacking.  People would need to be very present in this ‘moment of meaning making’. No longer slaves to chronos time, people would interact throughout the day until sufficient meaning had emerged for individuals to move forward, for the business to move forward.

In such a kairos informed culture I wonder if this would make us more curious, more exploratory, more accepting of alternative viewpoints and enable us to both seek meaning in our work and in our lives? It might also free us to play with our creative spirit.

What would happen if we lived our lives to kairos time? Not just at work, but all our experiences?

Even as you read this, you may be seeking to find new meaning for you?

Welcome to kairos 🙂

hello, hello, can you hear me?

now communication
“Hello, hello. Can you hear me?” the man says.

He removes the mobile telephone from his ear and looks wistfully at its display. Shrugs, and places it alongside the other phone and his tablet, laid expectantly on the train table in front of him.

Three communication devices and ironically he can’t.

Of course when that happens to us, we play that guessing game. Should I call them back, or wait a few moments in case they’re already dialling?

The desire to connect immediately is new to humanity.

I’ve never had a postal service representative knock on my door and say, ‘sorry, a colleague just tried to deliver your letter to Grace in Hull and she’s out.’ Nor do I feel the need to follow up my letter to Grace with another, sent next post, saying, ‘did you get my previous letter?’

We never needed phrases such as ‘offline’ or ‘out of office’ when communication simply involved speaking, reading or writing. People were either there in front of you, or they were left to choose when to digest your message. Without pressure. In their own time. No expectation.

A book doesn’t have sentences at the foot of the page such as ‘any questions so far?’ or ‘don’t turn the page if you haven’t followed the plot to date.’ Nor does it urge us to read the entire novel in one go.

Yet I’ve heard people say they struggle with Twitter because they don’t have enough time to read everything. Hours are spent thumbing the Facebook feed on our touch screen ever upwards, pausing briefly to look at Erin’s new pony, or read Graham’s latest holiday itinerary, or watch the video clip that one second earlier you didn’t even know existed, let alone that you needed to watch it, now.

Hello, I’m here now, tell me everything now. Don’t let me miss out on anything now.

The man opposite waits. Surely someone wants him?

time, choice and freedom

time choice freedom
Our lives are complicated.

Work has changed for many of us. The ‘always on’ technology-driven communication possibilities mean that many of us are slaves to our email, our social media connections, electronic meetings and diaries. They have become all pervasive. The global world means many of us are in meetings, conversing or delivering to deadlines spanning a full twenty four hours; with an increasing expectation to be available whenever required. Technology has become more complex, not least because it changes constantly. Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. Many commercial activities have become more complex, driven in part by the opportunity technology affords us. Consequently many business processes have become more complicated, not less.

And how do we respond? We blur boundaries, we work ‘more flexibly’, from home or away from interruption; we work evenings, weekends, so we can catch up with our email, sort out our admin, stay on top of things.

There is a knock on effect on our families, our non-work life. An impact on our wellbeing. On our health.

Of course these same globalisation, always on, technology driven changes work in our favour too. As consumers. The ability to access knowledge, products, services instantly, at the touch of a button on one of our many devices, anywhere, any time, is highly desirable. It buys us time, a precious commodity. It gives us choice, freedom.

Yet we are ceding control. Irony of ironies. The time, choice and freedom we have won is eaten up by the work demands on our time, choice and freedom.

Time to simplify?
Time to recreate boundaries?
Time to take control back?
Time to makes choices?
Time to win freedom?

are you busy? too busy to read this?

stop the glorification of busy
Are you busy? Too busy to read this? If so, maybe you should read it…

In recent months I have noticed the conversation starter at the coffee machine at work follows a familiar path, when you meet someone you haven’t seen in a while, whoever it may be. Maybe you recognise it? Or maybe you instigate it?

It goes something like this …
“Hi long time no see. What are you busy working on at the moment?”
“How are you?” Back comes the reply, “Really busy. You?”
“Hello, not seen you in a while.” “No things have been really busy…”

If you’re really busy you might want to stop reading this now.

If you live to an average life expectancy you have a total of around 620,000 hours. Given that we sleep for around a third of that, you have about 410,000 usable hours.

Time is a strange concept though isn’t it? I mean, what is an hour?

I often have the following debate with my wife when the clocks change – she’ll say something like “We gain an hour this week-end” and I’ll respond, “No we don’t, it’s just that what we call it has changed. Six o’clock is now known as five o’clock.” The Earth, Moon and Sun still move in the same harmonious rhythm. We still have the same amount of time in our lives. What we call the time is just that, it’s what we call it.

And we can call ourselves busy. Too busy to spend a few minutes on someone or something that is really important to us.

What matters most is how you use your time; those precious hours that are in short supply.

When was the last time you simply did something you love?
The last time you were kind to yourself?
The last time you carried out a random act of kindness?
The last time you stopped and really noticed another human being?
The last time you checked in with yourself, properly?
The last time you gave someone the gift of your full attention?

Next time you meet someone at the coffee machine, if the conversation starts down the ‘busy’ route, ask them a great coaching question and really listen to their response.
Maybe something like …
“… and how would you like it to be?”
“… and if you weren’t busy, what would you be?”

or maybe just invite them to contemplate what they would be doing right now if they were doing something they love.

And now you’ve read this … go and take five minutes for yourself.

where is your future?

timeline past present future
Where is your future?

I don’t mean, is your future in finance, or owning your own business, or getting your boss’s job. I don’t mean a little villa in Spain, or retiring at 45, I mean where is it? In relationship to you, now.

Point to it.

So where did you point?

Now try pointing to your past.

Did they both have a direction? A direction that was pretty obvious to you?

Isn’t that weird? We appear to have a sense of time – past and future – in relation to our physicality.

You may well have pointed in front of you to indicate your future. Maybe straight in front, maybe a little to one side, the right perhaps, as if pointing to one o’clock with midday straight ahead?

If you did point ahead of you, it’s possible you then pointed behind you to indicate your past.

Alternatively, your directional map may have been very different … you may have pointed to your right to indicate your future, sort of 2, 2:30 or 3 pm if straight ahead were 12 noon. Your past may then be to the left, maybe between 9 and 10:30? The past and future may be connected in a curve or a straight line.

Maybe you have another configuration?

Check out where ‘now’ is.

Right in front of your eyes, inside your head, where you’re standing?

Welcome to your timeline. An ‘unconscious’ orientation to your past, present and future. A guide to how you process time.

If your future is in front and past behind, you could be called ‘in time’; that is you are standing in your timeline as it were, journeying towards your future. Sometimes ‘in time’ people can be very focused on their next goal – they can after all ‘see’ it in front of them. They may not be inclined to make longer term plans or lists though, as those are ‘obscured’ by shorter term futures. They may use language such as ‘looking back’ or even wave their hand over their shoulder when talking about the past, thereby signalling the way they hold time.

If your future is to the right and past to the left, you could be described as ‘through time’. You can see through time, a little like a diary planner, with recent past events just a little to the left and older memories further left, whilst your near future is a little to the right of centre, with longer term goals further to your right. Sometimes ‘through time’ people are good planners and good timekeepers – they can see their timeline laid out like an open calendar.

Be curious about your orientation to time. Be curious about the hand or body movements and any language that suggests your orientation to time. Be curious about the patterns of other people too.

Time and the way you unconsciously hold your relationship to it has more impact on your life than you may ever have realised.


how are you spending your life … literally

spending time
If you were given £750,000 the day you were born, and knew that was all you would ever get, how would your choices be different?

At home the other week, we were discussing changing our carpets upstairs. I’m sure you have such conversations in your lives too … can we afford to replace the car, should we re-do the bathrooms, where shall we go on holiday this year, can I afford that training course I’d love to do?

Often a factor in such conversations is money and a choice about what we can afford. We play one thing off against another. Money is a currency we understand.  It gives us choices, informs our priorities.  We strive to acquire more, so that we can have more choice.  But what if there was a finite sum?

Time is a currency too.

The offer of £750,000 reflected the fact that most of us, living a full life into our mid 80s, will have around 750,000 hours on this planet. You can’t buy or earn any more.

Yet time, we fritter away with less conscious attention than a handful of small change.

We allow others to spend it for us.  Especially in work.  I’m required to be in that meeting. I need to travel to Glasgow. I have to finish that report this week-end. I must spend a few hours this evening getting on top of my email…

Even worse, we do this with our energy.

Our lives become dominated by things that not only eat into our time on this earth, but also which drain us of our energy.

That dull meeting you wish you weren’t in. The hours commuting. The dinner party with the couple you don’t really like. The hours in the gym you hate, but tell yourself you ought to do. The tedious job you wish was different.

Meanwhile, the simple things in life that energise us, we find less time for. Reading a book. Playing with the children. Enjoying an amazing view. That hour of yoga. Baking some bread.

You have around 750,000 hours in your life. It’s your choice how you spend it. Spend more of it on the things that inspire you and less on the things that are other people’s choices or that allow your energy, your very life essence, to leak away.

photo credit: BramstonePhotography via photopin cc