product designer, cyclist, armchair urbanist

Time Makes All The Difference

When I ride my bicycle or cross the street in busy traffic, I think about how the passing of time is the difference between getting smeared onto the windshield of a car or arriving home safely to my family.

Cross an intersection at one moment, and everyone watches you glide past. Let a couple seconds pass. Now cross the intersection, and it’s both illegal and dangerous. Deliver your punchline a moment late, and you’ll kill the joke. Same punchline, same joke — let too much time pass, and you can throw the whole feeling off. The margin of error in music is incredibly tight. If a drummer starts a few beats late and doesn’t adjust, an otherwise flawless song will be intolerable.

That’s to say nothing of the obvious power of timing in sports (how fast does a baseball scream across the batter’s box?), in cooking (a few minutes too long on the barbecue, and a juicy medium rare is a crunchy well done), and in healthcare (a timely diagnosis can be the difference between life and death).

“You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.” –Yogi Berra

What are you doing right now that you should pause, because the timing isn’t right? What are you neglecting that you should prioritize, because the timing won’t ever be right again?

We say “seize the opportunity” because opportunity sometimes has to be taken forcefully. For most of us, opportunity doesn’t want us. It tries to wiggle out of our grasp. We have to seize it.

Macro opportunies

  • a relationship that could blossom if given attention
  • a startup idea that may work today, but be useless in a year
  • that age where you could still finish up college
  • that period where you could still move to your dream city
  • a state of health where you could still take on a fitness challenge
  • that span of years where you are still your child’s hero

Micro opportunities

  • that moment when the tweet is still relevant
  • that window of time when having the conversation will still be meaningful
  • that time of day when it’s still light enough to take a walk
  • a flash of inspiration for a project
  • that moment when an entire passage lights up in your mind, and you could take the time to write it down and publish it
  • that time when a kiss or a smile or a hello could change - the mood of their whole day

Bread goes stale. One day it could be award-winning, and another day it’s not merely a little less tasty — it’s repulsive. Opportunites feel the same way. What are you letting go stale? What prize could shrivel up and gather mold right below your nose?