Law 35: Master the Art of Timing
“Never seem to be in a hurry — hurrying betrays a lack of control over yourself, and over time. Always seem patient, as if you know that everything will come to you eventually. Become a detective of the right moment; sniff out the spirit of the times, the trends that will carry you to power. Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe, and to strike fiercely when it has reached fruition.”
The first concept to understand in ‘mastering the art of timing’…
The first practical step towards this is taking autonomy of one’s emotions.
The key is fostering a keen awareness of how our emotions can cloud our perception of time. Notice how chaotic uncontrolled emotions can often distort the perception of time. It take’s you out of the present moment and into your head, instead of staying in the reality of the moment.
To take control of one’s emotion, is to take control over time.
Greene discusses three type of time for us to deal with, each type presents problems that can be solved with a skill or practice.
1. Long Time
The following story on famous seventeenth-century Ming painter Chou Yung
relates a story that altered his behavior forever.
“Yung set out to visit a town that lay across the river from his own town. He was bringing some important books and papers with him and had commissioned a young boy to help him carry them. As the ferry neared the other side of the river, Yung asked the boatman if they would have time to get to the town before its gates closed, since it was a mile away and night was approaching. The boatman glanced at the boy, and at the bundle of loosely tied papers and books — ’Yes,” he replied, if you do not walk too fast.
As they started out, however, the sun was setting. Afraid of being
locked out of the town at night, prey to local bandits, Chou and the boy
walked faster and faster, finally breaking into a run. Suddenly the string
around the papers broke and the documents scattered on the ground. It
took them many minutes to put the packet together again, and by the time
they had reached the city gates, it was too late.
This is something I still struggle with to this day. I move with a sense of urgency with the majority of mundane tasks to “hack” time. I don’t walk slowly across the place I live to get from one room to another, I walk fast or jog with purpose. I believe I’ve saved dozens of hours over my lifetime moving with a sense of urgency in my day to day. Though there have been hundreds of times when moving with haste has resulted in me making a mistake, causing me to take MORE time than originally planned.
Do not be a one hit wonder flash in the pan that’s so impatient for success you sacrifice integrity and self respect for temporary glory.
This name I am very slowly building for myself will take years and years — decades. I look forward to the day when I’m 40 looking back on these writings. But supreme patience and resilience is needed.
2. Forced Time
The point of forced time is to make your competitors and rivals hurry to make mistakes. The goal is to make them abandon their pace and distort their perception of time while you do the opposite and stay patient. A very useful tactic in competitive environments.
“Making people wait is a powerful way of forcing time, as long as they not figure out what you are up to. You control the clock, they linger in limbo — and rapidly come unglued, opening up opportunities for you to strike.
The opposite effect is equally powerful: You make your opponents hurry. Start off your dealings with them slowly, then suddenly apply pressure, making them feel that everything is happening at once. People who lack the time to think will make mistakes — so set their deadlines for them.”
“Joseph Duveen (someone we’ve referenced many times in these laws), the famous art dealer, knew that if he gave an indecisive buyer like John D. Rockefeller a deadline — ‘the painting had to leave the country’, ‘another tycoon was interested in it’ — the client would buy just in time.”
“Sigmund Freud noticed that patients who had spent years in psychoanalysis
without improvement would miraculously recover just in time if he fixed a
definite date for the end of the therapy.”
Modern Day Application Of Forced Time
Ever seen a sales page like this?
A perfect example of “forcing time” in the modern era. It may not work very well in the 2017/2018 environment because most know these are usually generic timers that restart every time you refresh the page. But when these were first used on the internet you can imagine how successful at forcing decision making they were.
What do exams time constraints do?
“[They] close off the vistas of indecision and force people to make up their damn minds or get to the point”
They force you to play on their terms.
3. End Time
The question that this statement provokes is: are you mistaking “patience” for timidity because you are too afraid to make an actual decision?
Greene mentions the word “opponent” and “enemy” a lot in these laws, you don’t have to just think of an “opponent” as an actual physical being. Who sais your opponent can’t be a metaphor for your life? So that above photo may alternatively read, “patience is worthless unless you are willing to attack your life at the right moment”.
“The Hawk: Patiently and silently it circles the sky, high above, all seeing with its powerful eyes. Those below have no awareness that they are being tracked. Suddenly, when the moment arrives, the hawk swoops down with a speed that cannot be defended against; before its prey knows what has happened the bird’s viselike talons have carried it up into the sky”.