Keys to power of timing

Space we can recover, time never.
Napoleon Bonaparte, 1 769-1821
Time is an artificial concept that we ourselves have created to make the
limitlessness of eternity and the universe more bearable, more human.
Since we have constructed the concept of time, we are also able to mold it
to some degree, to play tricks with it. The time of a child is long and slow,
with vast expanses; the time of an adult whizzes by frighteningly fast.
Time, then, depends on perception, which, we know, can be willfully altered. 

This is the first thing to understand in mastering the art of timing. If
the inner turmoil caused by our emotions tends to make time move faster,
it follows that once we control our emotional responses to events, time will
move much more slowly. This altered way of dealing with things tends to
lengthen our perception of future time, opens up possibilities that fear and
anger dose off, and allows us the patience that is the principal requirement
in the art of timing.
There are three kinds of time for us to deal with; each presents problems that can be solved with skill and practice. First there is long time: the
drawn-out, years-Iong kind of time that must be managed with patience
and gentle guidance. Our handling of long time should be mostly defensive-this is the art of not reacting impulsively, of waiting for opportunity.
we shall be in trouble.

So he had the fellow 's
feet cut off Both families did exaetly the
same thing, but one
timed it right, the other
wrong. Thus suecess
depends on ... rhythm.
The sultan [of PersiaJ
had senteneed two men
to death. One of them,
knowing how mueh the
sultan loved his stal­
!ion, offered to teaeh
the horse to jly within a
year in return for his
!ife. The sultan, faneying himself as the rider
ofthe only jlying horse
in the world, agreed.
The other prisoner
looked at his friend in
disbelie! " You know
horses don 't jly. What
made you come up
with a erazY idea like
that? You 're only postponing the inevitable. "
"Not so, " said the [first
prisoner]. "I have aetually given myselffour
chances for freedom.
First, the sultan might
die du ring the year.
5eeond, 1 might die.
Third, the horse might
die. And fourth . . . 1
might teaeh the horse
tu jly!"
R.G. H. Sm,
1 979
LAW 35 295
I'I IE C [ IlCi':Ol\
A fisherman in the
month of May stood
angling on the bank of
the Thames with an
artificial fly. He threw
his bait with so milch
art, that a young trollt
was rllshing toward it,
when she was
prevented by her
mother. "Never, " said
she, "my child, be too
precipitate, where there
is a possibility of
danger. Take dlle time
to consider, before YOIl
risk an action that may
be fatal. How know
YOIl whether yon
appearance be indeed a
fly, or the snare of an
enemy? Let someone
else make the experiment before you. lf it
be a jty, he will very
probably elllde the first
attack: and the second
may be made, if not
with SlIccess, at least
with safety.

She had no sooner spoken, than a glldgeon
seized the pretended
fly, and became an
example to the giddy
dallghter of the importance of her mother's
co linse I.
1 703-1 764
296 LAW 35
Next there is Jorced time: the short-term time that we can manipulate as an
offensive weapon, upsetting the timing of oUf opponents. Finally there is
end time, when a plan must be executed with speed and force. We have
waited, found the moment, and must not hesitate.
Long Time. The famous seventeenth-century Ming painter Chou Yung
relates a story that altered his behavior forever. Late one winter aftemoon
he set out to visit a town that lay across the river from his own town. He
was bringing some important books and papers with hirn and had commissioned a young boy to help hirn carry them. As the ferry neared the other
side of the river, Chou Yung asked the boatman if they would have time to
get to the town before its gates closed, since it was a mHe 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
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.

 When you force the pace out of fear and impatience, you create a nest
of problems that require fixing, and you end up taking much longer than if
you had taken YOUf time. Hurriers may occasionally get there quicker, but
papers fly everywhere, new dangers arise, and they find themselves in constant crisis mode, fixing the problems that they themselves have created.
Sometimes not acting in the face of danger is YOUf best move-you wait,
you deliberately slow down. As time passes it will eventually present opportunities you had not imagined.
Waiting involves controlling not only YOUf own emotions but those of
YOUf colleagues, who, rnistaking action for power, may try to push you into
making rash moves. In YOUf rivals, on the other hand, you can encourage
this same mistake: If you let them rush headlong into trouble while you
stand back and wait, 

you will soon find ripe moments to intervene and pick
up the pieces. This wise policy was the principal strategy of the great earlyseventeenth-century emperor Tokugawa Ieyasu of Japan. When his predecessor, the headstrong Hideyoshi, whom he served as a general, staged a
rash invasion of Korea, Ieyasu did not involve hirnself. He knew the invasion would be a dis aster and would lead to Hideyoshi's downfall.

 Better to
stand patiently on the sidelines, even Jor many years, and then be in position
to seize power when the time is right-exactly what Ieyasu did, with great
You do not deliberately slow time down to live longer, or to take more
pleasUfe in the moment, but the better to play the game of power. First,
when YOUf mind is uncluttered by constant emergencies you will see further into the future. Second, you will be able to resist the baits that people
dangle in front of you, and will keep yourself from becoming another impatient sucker. Third, you will have more room to be flexible. Opportunities will inevitably arise that you had not expected and would have missed
had you forced the pace. Fourth, you will not move from one deal to the
next without completing the first one. To build your power's foundation
can take years; make sure that foundation is secure. Do not be a flash in the
pan-success that is built up slowly and surely is the only kind that lasts.
Finally, slowing time down will give you a perspective on the times
you live in, letting you take a certain distance and putting you in a less
emotionally charged position to see the shapes of things to come. 

will often mistake surface phenomena for a real trend, seeing only what
they want to see. How much better to see what is really happening, even if
it is unpleasant or makes your task harder.
Forced Time. The trick in forcing time is to upset the timing of others-to
make them hurry, to make them wait, to make them abandon their own
pace, to distort their perception of time. Ey upsetting the timing of your opponent while you stay patient, you open up time for yourself, which is half
the game.
In 1473 the great Turkish sultan Mehmed the Conqueror invited negotiations with Hungary to end the off-and-on war the two countries had
waged for years. When the Hungarian emissary arrived in Turkey to start
the talks, Turkish officials humbly apologized-Mehmed had just left Istanbul, the capital, to battle his longtime foe, Uzun Hasan. Eut he urgently
wanted peace with Hungary, and had asked that the emissary join hirn at
the front.
When the emissary arrived at the site of the fighting, Mehmed had already left it, moving eastward in pursuit of his swift foe.

 This happened
several times. Wherever the emissary stopped, the Turks lavished gifts and
banquets on hirn, in pleasurable but time-consuming ceremonies. Finally
Mehmed defeated Uzun and met with the emissary. Yet his terms for peace
with Hungary were excessively harsh. Mter a few days, the negotiations
ended, and the usual stalemate remained in place. Eut this was fine with
Mehmed. In fact he had planned it that way all along: Plotting his campaign against Uzun, he had seen that diverting his armies to the east would
leave his western flank vulnerable. To prevent Hungary from taking advantage of his weakness and his preoccupation elsewhere, he first dangled the
lure of peace before his enemy, then made them wait-all on his own
Making people wait is a powerful way of forcing time, as long as they
do not figure out what you are up to. You control the dock, they linger in
limbo-and rapidly come unglued, opening up opportunities for you to

 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.
LAW 35 297
298 LAW 35
This was the technique Machiavelli admired in Cesare Borgia, who, during
negotiations, would suddenly press vehemendy for a decision, upsetting
his opponent's timing and patience. For who would dare make Cesare
Joseph Duveen, 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 dient would buy just
in time. 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. Jacques Lacan, the farnaus French
psychoanalyst, used a variation on this tactic-he would sometimes end
the customary hour session of therapy after only ten minutes, without
waming. After this happened several times, the patient would realize that
he had better make maximum use of the time, rather than wasting much of
the hour with a lot of talk that meant nothing. The deadline, then, is a powerful tool.

 Close off the vistas of indecision and force people to make up
their damn minds or get to the point-never let them make you play on
their excruciating terms. Never give them time.
Magicians and showmen are experts in forcing time. Houdini could
often wriggle free of handcuffs in minutes, but he would draw the escape
out to an hour, making the audience sweat, as time came to an apparent
standstill. Magicians have always known that the best way to alter our perception of time is often to slow down the pace. Creating suspense brings
time to a terrifying pause: The slower the magician's hands move, the easier it is to create the illusion of speed, making people think the rabbit has
appeared instantaneously. The great nineteenth-century magician Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin took explicit notice of this effect: "The more slowly a
story is told," he said, "the shorter it seems."
Going slower also makes what you are doing more interesting-the
audience yields to your pace, becomes entranced. It is a state in which time
whizzes delightfully by. 

You must practice such illusions, which share in the
hypnotist's power to alter perceptions of time.
End Time. You can play the game with the utmost artistry-waiting patiendy for the right moment to act, putting your competitors off their form
by messing with their timing-but it won't mean a thing unless you know
how to finish. Da not be one of those people who look like paragons of patience but are actually just afraid to bring things to a dose: Patience is
worthless unless combined with a willingness to fall ruthlessly on your opponent at the right moment. You can wait as long as necessary for the condusion to come, but when it comes it must come quickly. Use speed to
paralyze your opponent, cover up any mistakes you might make, and impress people with your aura of authority and finality.
With the patience of a snake charmer, you draw the snake out with
calm and steady rhythms; Once the snake is out, though, would you dangle
your foot above its deadly head? There is never a good reason to allow the
slightest hitch in your endgame. Your mastery of timing can really only be
judged by how you work with end time-how you quickly change the pace
and bring things to a swift and definitive conclusion.

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