It’s A Matter Of Time

27 Jan 2012

Within the entrepreneurial industry there are many workshops, books and blogs dedicated to moving things faster or providing some sort of secret to success. However, there is plenty of evidence that many of our most astonishing achievements have taken years or even decades to accomplish. We have a societal obsession with getting things done faster or finding the optimal route to success, but what does history teach us about time? What do we lose by not letting things evolve at their own pace? The economy continues to be unstable. It is forcing people to ask really big questions, such as: how do we create a better way of life? How do we create a better economy? These questions are not going to be answered with a formula or by going faster. We have met many entrepreneurs that are looking to create lasting change and we often hear their frustration with time. We spoke recently with Alison Coward, founder of Bracket, a collaborative agency building the tools and platforms for the economy of the future. As more people turn to enterprise and freelancing, we will move from working in stagnant groups to collaborative projects. This new way of working needs the time to be accepted. To start with, behavioural norms need to change, the advantages of working in this new way need to be proved, and word needs spread.

History and nature teaches us the importance of time. Look at the growth process of an oak tree, how it grows from the tiniest of seeds into one of the most majestic trees. Can you imagine if nature was as obsessed with time? It would have missed many of its evolutionary advantages, beauty and sophistication. Or look at the sophistication and evolution of our tools: we were a species that started with a flint and now we have beautifully designed technology that allows us to study everything from the cosmos to the brain.

Understandably, once we understand a problem repeating is not the optimal choice. However, going down a linear optimal road is not just boring but can stop discovery. Einstein’s law of relativity was not discovered in a linear optimal manner. It took him many walks, copious sheets of formulae, and even moments of complete chaos before getting to his beautiful formula of E=MC^2. We should learn to feel more  comfortable with chaos. The first step to accepting and feeling comfortable with chaos is by learning to observe it rather than fighting it or zooming past it.. The elapsing of time can teach us lessons, add depth to our studies, and leads us to unexpected discoveries. These are all things that could be lost through dogmatic optimisation.