Time is interesting; we watch it, occasionally we waste it, grab it while it flies past us, and sometimes we even kill it.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time. The first, chronos, refers to chronological or sequential time. It's the term we're the most familiar with. This is how we measure time -by minutes, days, years and seasons - increments of our lives that pass in a linear fashion. We think of chronos times in terms of a ticking clock or days stroked off our calendars and most of us agree that there never seems to be enough of this variety of time.
Most change initiatives have time frames. When organizing a project we speak of start dates, time lines, schedules and the ever dreaded due date. We're well aware that time is finite, precious and that, if we don't stay on time, the project is doomed.
But there is another kind of time - kairos time. Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). It is a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens. While chronos is quantitative, kairos is more qualitative in nature. Chronos is, as long as this earth continues to spin, predictable; and whether we welcome it's passing or not, it will pass.
Kairos is described as, 'a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved'. It is a special increment of time, when extraordinary things are possible. Chronos happens every day, Kairos is rare, a time that perfect storms are made of. A Kairos moment is that space in chronos time when we are more aware, open, seeking, willing a change to happen. A Kairos moment is when loose ends get knotted together, when there is a unique opportunity to grow and shift in your thinking and consequently your behaviour. These moments are life changing, littered with Ah-has, and are not to be missed.
The best time to change is when things are changing. If you're in the middle of a personal or professional transition - look around, listen for a pause in the ticking of your life and grab hold of that moment - breathe in a new idea. It's tempting to rush the days of our lives, stroking off events and encounters in an effort to get on with it. But if we take that approach in life or at work, we will miss the richness of those moments when possibility hangs in the air, when we are poised to grow, a mere breath away from a new beginning.
What have been the Kairos moments in your past? How about your future? Will you recognize them? Do you look for them? Strong leaders watch for them, for themselves and their teams; they know that once the moment is past, it won't come again.