What makes the ordinary extraordinary? – The Time Principle (Part 1)

Updated: Jun 14

According to Jimmy Johnson, “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”. This has been the simplest form of expressing this to many. If you want to be extraordinary then, put in the extra work; go the extra mile; do what others are not doing; do the unusual; burn the midnight candle inter alia. This is true and works for many but still not for some. Some people work equally as hard as others, yet they don't shine. Some shine early but do not reach their fullest potential. Some don't even seem to work hard yet seamlessly they excel at what they do. Is it luck, chance, or/and [divine or human] favour that make others excel than others?

I wish I could give a simple logical answer that turns out to be the magic potion one could just digest and boom, they are at the top of their game. However, I want to share something simple and pragmatic that could set one apart and help one to their own level of greatness irrespective of who, what, or where they are.

History has repeated time and time certain codes, ethics, concepts, tendencies, and principles that run through the lives of many greats. These key principles and concepts if well understood, mastered, and well applied can change any ordinary person into an extraordinary one. In the weeks that follow, I will be sharing one principle after the other with you and hope to ignite a new desire in you to achieve more with this series.

For this week, we begin with discussing the most important concept of this series, TIME.

According to J.R.R. Tolkien “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” He makes it simple by indicating that our most important job is to decide what we do with our time. The first step to fully living a fulfilled and accomplished life is understanding the importance and optimum use of time. Time is so precious that we can neither buy more of it nor increase it. Time cannot be scaled. Once time is lost, we can never replenish nor recreate it. Time wasted can never be replaced. Time is no respecter of persons. It does not discriminate. We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. Not even the richest man on earth can buy more time, can slow down time, or can speed time. Each passing time is forever lost and can never be reproduced. This means each passing day, hour, minute, or second, that we have, is one less day, hour, minute, or second to use. Time is a finite resource and we are also finite beings, expiring day in and day out.

Time is, therefore, the great equaliser for both the rich and the poor; the ordinary and the extraordinary. In my book, Intentional Wealth 2.0, I indicate that time is the most valuable asset we have for wealth building. Thus, we need to be very mindful of how we spend it, who we spend it with, what we spend on, where we spend it, and even still when we spend it. We have to be intentional in our time usage and ultimately, our time management.

But when it comes to time usage and management quite a number of work has been shared but let us first try to understand some other aspects of time. In ancient days, Greeks had two words for time: χρόνoς (Chronos) and (καιρός) Kairos. While Chronos refers to chronological or sequential time, Kairos refers to "right time" or "opportune moment”, i.e., a period or season, a point in time when a significant event occurs. Kairos has a qualitative, permanent essence, whereas Chronos is quantitative.

In our zeal to become great and achieve more, we could end up running headlong down a path that may have seemed good but could be taking us away from our best. This is because we, naturally, tend to think of time basically in terms of Chronos often. We think of a day as having 24 hours. Our workweeks are defined by the number of hours we put in. We have a to-do list and a limited amount of time to complete it. Being conscious of our minutes and seconds is a good thing as it reflects our notion of time as a continuous sequence of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future.

Ironically, this one-perspective Chronos mindset can make us miss our Kairos, i.e., to pay attention and take advantage of the opportune times and seasons. This means we need to start seeing time in the duality of its meaning. This necessitates a conceptual adjustment on our part. Rather than seeing time as only grains of sand slipping through an hourglass, we begin to also see it as opportunities flying by. Instead of viewing our time as only seconds ticking by, we recognize that not every second holds the same worth. Some moments are more valuable than others. The five minutes I have to pitch a business idea to an investor is more important than the five remaining minutes of EPL's last-day matches as a fan with no stakes in the business of the games.

At this point, we know time is precious and non-renewable. Time is an equaliser between the ordinary and the extraordinary. Time should be viewed in the duality of its meaning - Chronos and Kairos. This understanding of time leads us now to the notion of timing and turn in the context of opportune time [Kairos] notion. This is where the line is drawn between the ordinary and extraordinary. This is where we learn to understand and know the best course of action to take and when, how and what to do. This is when we understand that in some scenarios, it may be our time but not our turn. This will require us to be patient and wait. The understanding of such times helps us to avoid envying others and indulging in unhealthy comparisons with others as we know our moment will surely come, and that is the area we should be focusing our strengths and attention on. At another point, it may be our turn but not our time. This is when we prepare and wait for the opportune moment. The understanding of this scenario avoids unnecessary frustration and knowing the apparent outcome in time, we rather seek what will be required of us and prepare to perform and assume the task, role, work, or job with the requisite skillsets.

To be continued …

What makes the ordinary extraordinary? – The Time and Chance Principle (Part 2)

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