Think First, Grow Second

When we start out in business, everything is urgent. Everything is important. You’re a Swiss Army knife — doing the work, billing it, marketing it, making it, taking care of customers. As the business grows, it’s easy to get stuck in “urgency” mode.

But that’s not where growth happens.

Two Types of Thinking

The task-focused daily grind that afflicts many business owners is called chronos time (actually, at Apex, we call it chronos thinking). The word “chronos” is Greek for chronological time — activities or events that happen in a linear, chronological sequence. Most people live in chronos time. We get up, eat breakfast, have deadlines, attend meetings, yada yada yada. The day goes by. A few zzzz’s later, we start over. Chronos thinking honors the almighty clock.

Kairos time (also Greek and, yes, Apex calls it kairos thinking) ignores the chronology of time; rather, kairos is measured in moments. This is where we give ourselves the space to think and see the opportunities.

Writer McKinley Valentine puts it this way in her article “Chronos and Kairos”: “Where chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative. It measures moments, not seconds. Further, it refers to the right moment, the opportune moment. The perfect moment. The world takes a breath, and in the pause before it exhales, fates can be changed.”

Fortune 500 CEOs Are Always in Kairos

It’s nearly impossible to see opportunities in chronos time. You’re too busy getting things done. That’s why CEOs of large, publicity traded companies spend almost all their time in kairos. They walk in a constant state of high level strategy, constantly exploring opportunities. People operating in chronos time execute on those opportunities.

From year one of starting Microsoft — and even during the most challenging years — Bill Gates took a two-week retreat. He called them “think weeks” where he read, jotted down notes and opened up his mind about where Microsoft was and where he wanted it to be. What comes out of such kairos thinking are big ideas that slingshots an organization forward.

Business Owners: Be On Both Trains

Of course, most of us are not Bill Gates or Mary Barra or Jeff Bezos. We don’t have the luxury of being in kairos without pause.

So, we need to know when to switch trains or — to borrow from a well-known metaphor describing one’s line of reasoning — “trains of thought.”

Business owners who are constantly on the chronos train need to know when to make the switch to the kairos train. This is like giving yourself permission and space to see opportunities without the chain of the clock. HELLO, THIS IS WHERE GROWTH HAPPENS. Kairos is that young, fleeting Greek with wings on his feet. Chronos has a white beard and walks with a cane.

It’s busy versus productive. Switching trains is not easy at first. Our team needs us to come up with big ideas, but also needs our help implementing those ideas.

Slow Down to Go Forward

Here’s the big secret for growth-bound business owners: Stop, pause and be intentional. Productivity follows a plan.

You can’t squeeze in long-term planning. You need uninterrupted, scheduled time for this. Maybe it’s one day each month away from the office. Maybe it’s a weekend retreat or a walk through an arboretum. The point is to schedule the time. Think of it as a meeting with yourself.

Apex Launches KAIROS

We’ve seen firsthand the transformational change that happens in kairos time. We’ve seen kairos thinking increase revenues, rally employees to drive a company’s mission and result in measurable growth. We believe in this so much, we’ve rebranded our FutureBiz program as KAIROS, a strategy-driven program to help business owners grow from the inside out with a culture-driven mindset that leads to idea breakthroughs.

Kairos thinking is where the action is. This is where you’ll move the needle. It’s where inspired business owners find the big opportunities to bring back to the team so growth happens.

Are you ready for kairos thinking? Let us know if you would like a 15-minute conversation about KAIROS.

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