The Illusion Of Time


My calendar at the start of any business week is a planned and balanced mixture of meetings, presentations, coaching sessions, workshops and of course time allocated to write, plan and make new contacts. By the end of the week there have been changes that include additions, cancellations and sometimes a no show. Does that sound familiar? All those kinds of changes interfere with our productivity and performance. For some people it means even earlier starts, while others find themselves working late into the night or long before dawn to catch up on emails or similar.

It's just past the shortest day in New Zealand which means an early morning walk along the beach in the dark does not excite me, so I look for opportunities later in the day.  That so often cannot happen because of meetings, or at this time of year torrential rain and gales.  Yesterday was a day to work from my office with only one meeting just ten minutes away.  As the day dawned I could see how clear it was and decided that a walk before the meeting would be perfect. Then a client called me for some assistance and so I cancelled my walk!


Making the most of unexpected opportunities

I arrived a little early at the café for my meeting and just sensed my client may have forgotten. I called her and she had.  She was hugely apologetic saying she hadn’t checked her diary and knew she had meetings but thought they were later in the day.  I could hear the stress in her voice.  She was a long way from the café and so I suggested we meet later in the day prior to both of us attending the same business meeting. I could hear her relief. As I drove back to my office with my take-out coffee I decided to drive down to the beach.  The day was stunning. The sky brilliant blue, as was the sea.  The tide was half out with herons walking across the sand. It could have been summer. As I walked along the footpath by the beach I noticed a couple of people walking with their mobiles glued to their ears. I had mine with me, not to take or make calls but to use the camera to capture this moment.  I quietly thanked my client for forgetting our meeting. 


I used the time I was to be in a meeting for reflective time.  Within minutes the creative juices were flowing.  I had some insights, and ideas started to flow as I sat on a bench and embraced life.  I thought about why we make mistakes, forget appointments or ignore them as I myself did earlier in the day.  I also thought of a meeting that had been re-scheduled so many times and even when we did finally have the meeting with my client and an HR manager, how the latter was late, totally flustered and just wasn’t able to be present.  
The meeting was about the leaders in the organisation and their ability to be resilient.  We were discussing Emotional Intelligence and the apparent lack of it in so many managers and how it affects their staff.  Life for so many people seems to be like a being in a pressure cooker.


Fast isn't always best

We live in a world of fast, instant – NOW!  Pressure cooking has its place, however, I know that lamb shanks cooked slowly in a casserole have a much more intense flavour and texture than when cooked in the pressure cooker. The old saying of ‘putting it on the back burner’ is useful to remember. When we leave something alone it is not uncommon for a new idea, solution or brilliant insight to occur. It feels effortless.


 If we are always demanding immediate answers from our people we may not get the best quality responses and it feels like hard work for them. This means the quality of thinking is not available until the person is aware that they just need to slow their minds down for a moment and create the head space for the right answers.

As I drove back to the office I had not wasted that ‘no show’ time and the rest of the day was highly productive. By the afternoon the rain was pouring down and my rescheduled meeting with the busy business owner was beside an open fire at the local hotel.  My client relaxed and we had a deep conversation about managing staff in virtual offices.  I listened to her talking about the challenges she has and her dreams for her business and as I offered her some ways we could work together she was grateful, relaxed and it was effortless. I showed her the photos I had taken at the beach and thanked her.  At first she thought that was strange but then realised a little more slow thinking time might be more productive for her, her staff and her clients. In just thirty minutes her world had started to look different.  Time IS an illusion. 


Till next time - make the most of the unexpected!

Gilly Chater


Gilly helps people achieve insight powered breakthroughs for themselves and their businesses. She is an inspirational speaker who presents keynotes and breakouts at conferences and writes about the key ingredients for success in today’s world.

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