Friday, April 20, 2012

The Secret Mantra to Success: Why Timing is Everything

Old-fashioned black and white photograph of a Railway Station Clock by Petar Milošević
Railway Station Clock by Petar Milošević
So much of life depends on proper timing. If you happen to be at the right place at the right time, if you say or do the right thing at the appropriate moment, you can get the job or the girl / boy you want. Your joke, plan or marriage proposal won't fly unless it is delivered at the most propitious time and circumstances.

I find it indeed amazing how some people seem to have a knack for timing, while others are always completely off, sometimes by five minutes or so. I do not know if timing can be achieved or improved through conscious effort, if it is inherited, if it is about education or upbringing, or even if it can be studied and practiced. One thing I do know, however, is that timing is a necessary secret ingredient for success.

I do not claim to have particularly good timing myself. Yet one thing that I have noticed -- in perfect 20 / 20 hindsight -- is that most of the time when I trust my instincts and intuition, the timing is right. Doubt seems to be the enemy of timing because of its blocking effect. I will give an example. I would have a funny line in mind that sprang up as a humorous footnote to a certain discussed topic; yet I would hesitate to utter this phrase thinking it may not be good enough. However, by waiting instead of acting on the right moment, the opportunity passed and any mention of or relation to a previous topic would seem unnecessary and futile, in short, unfunny. I missed the moment by letting it slip by unused.

Then, as I become engaged in Improv, also known as theater sports, where everything depends on the spur of the moment and lines must flow more freely than wine, I learned the truth of every comedian, wanna-be or not, that it is not only quality, but also the correct timing that defines humor. 

And Improv kept me on my toes because it would be a matter of seconds, and you must trust your intuition. It is like the tennis-player or the hockey goalie who must react to a shot with no time to think. It is the shutting off of your ego's voice and a complete engulfing and absorbing awareness of time and space. It is similar to being stoned but without the drugs, hence cheaper and healthier for the body.

At this point, I am assuming that timing can be learned but again that is not the entire truth. You can do Improv 24 hours a day but that does not make you funny or necessarily good at it. You can practice for days on end, but it doesn't mean that you will become a successful athlete. Yet if the “talent” -- for a lack of better word here -- is already in you, then the proper practice can bring it out. You come to trust yourself and your instinct and then you will say the right thing at the right time, you will win the heart of a girl by saying the words she has been waiting for or you will make the entire audience laugh.

And at the same time, timing may also be out of your reach. Think about the following situation. You enter a workplace, and they happen to be looking for someone with your qualities at that exact time because one of their employees had unexpectedly and inadvertently quit the post. There is no rational way for you to know or have this information, but it is timing again that leads to your obtaining the job. It is the difference between receiving the awaited call response versus the email letting you know that they will keep your file on hold for the next six months.

This type of timing depends on a supernatural type or source of information. Some, like me for example, may call it destiny, that something was meant to happen and you entered not out of your own free will but with a certain otherworldly push into that office. That kind of timing is quite similar to karma: Although you cannot study it, you still can practice it to a certain extent by providing good deeds so that they will eventually bounce back to you in the form and currency of timing.


Vincent said...

I like this a lot, Arash. I've brooded about it too, and written a post on a similar topic. I called it 'Luck', but meant it as a kind of active luck where you participate in the process, by waiting alertly for the thing to come along. That is from memory. Let me dig out the link.

Later: I found three links: Lucky,
Lucky (2), Diogenes and Alexander

Arashmania said...

Vincent, thanks for the comment and the links, which I found very interesting. I also liked the link within the link, the BBC article you stumbled upon by accident or through sheer luck. It was interesting to see that luck is equated with gut feeling and being open and relaxed and vice versa.

I do believe that. Luck is, as you say, active, and in German we have a saying that luck is for the capable, competent or hard-working people.

So, in other words, wishing good luck seems to be a futile thing to do; luck can be to a large degree in our own hands.