Establishing profound relationships

  1. Chronos (χρονος) — this word is used to describe what we most commonly understand as “time” and we derive the word “chronology” from it. It refers to sequential time — hours, minutes, and seconds. This quantitative concept of time bites or haunts us — we say: “There are not enough hours in the day!” Here we are referring to chronos. It somehow manages to fly past us at an alarming rate and we always run out of time. It frustrates and irritates us and certainly doesn’t add significance to our experience of life. “Being busy” does not mean that you are being effective, nor does it necessarily contribute to future value.
  2. Kairos (καιρος) — this word speaks of the “right” or “opportune” moment, a supreme happening in time or an impactful experience. It can refer to either positive or negative circumstances and never addresses the mundane, but only qualitative events. If I was to write a biography on Nelson Mandela, I would not put in the account that Nelson Mandela got up at six o’clock to brush his teeth — that’s the mundane and refers to chronos. I would certainly include, however, the Rivonia Trial, his time in prison, the starting of a children’s fund, his relationships, and his impact on the world — all kairos-related concepts. Chronos happens to you — you never have to ask your inbox, “Please get full” — it will get full anyway and frustrate you. Kairos or “impact” you have to make happen for you — you have to plan that meal out with your spouse, watch your son’s game, sort out your relationship with your boss, or have a meaningful discussion with a staff member. To achieve a kairos moment requires our attention and energy applied appropriately. We have to plan it into our life.
  3. Aeon (αιων) — this word refers to an era/age, an extended period of time or an eternity, usually referred to in the past. The old music band, Mike and the Mechanics, wrote a song, entitled: “Looking Back Over my Shoulder”. When you look back over your life, what do you see — a blur of busy moments or do you recognise significance in some of your relationships? To be able to look back with pride and fond memories means that one has made the effort to build kairos moments into our experience of life.

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Jonathan Mills

Jonathan Mills

Jonathan has spent over 30 years focusing his efforts on developing people throughout the world. He believes that people have the most impact when stretched.