Why you need to get the timing right


Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in the worst of moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.’ Robert H Schuller

There is a science and art to making great popcorn, especially if you don’t have a popcorn maker. First you start with quality seeds, some oil, salt, saucepan with lid, heat and just the right amount of time.

Too little time in the saucepan and you end up with lots of seeds, too much time and you have burnt popcorns. But oh, the delight when you get it just right. Much of life is like that. You can have all the ingredients and tools but you need the right timing to achieve success.

Consider this: every so often, there is a brilliant human being with a great idea. His or her compatriots don’t understand him or her, eventually ostracising them at best or killing them at worst. Then a couple of decades later another person comes forth with the same idea and is hailed as genius. What made the difference? Time, or more aptly, timing. One idea or person was ahead of his or her time, the other was in and on time.

Catching the sunset was one of my favourite pastimes when I lived with an aunt in Kisumu in my early 20s. Her house was close to the lake and the sunsets were particularly spectacular.

There was usually a forecast of when the sun would set every day so I tried my best to be by the porch of the house just before it did. The sun would hang above the lake in resplendent golden orange hues, sending shimmering rays above the water. And then it would go down slowly, sinking over the horizon, allowing the darkness to descend.


Those evenings taught me the importance of timing whether it was to catch the sunset, buy shares, sell shares, cook a meal, quit a job, take a job, start a business, sell a business or deliver a speech.

If timing is that important, how can we predict it? One very strong indicator is when the stars seem to be aligning for you. If every way you look, doors are flying open, you are probably on to something. Bear in mind too that there will be times you don’t have any indicators except a strong conviction that it is best to act quickly.

Unfortunately, the two enemies of timing are procrastination on one end or being too fast off your marks on the other. Procrastinators tend to over-think things, waiting for an elusive perfect time to do or acquire something.

In the process, they miss out on many golden opportunities. Think of the person who wants to acquire property but passes off so many waiting for a perfect one at the right price. As properties continue to appreciate, he may find that the perfect deal is now beyond reach.

Fast trackers on the other hand run ahead of themselves, and like in athletics, they disqualify themselves from opportunity.

Using the property example, a fast tracker moves quickly, without due diligence and is usually at risk of losing everything. The person who understands timing scours the market, doing extensive research, looking for the best deal at the best price. If he has money in the bank or access to financing, he hits that magical spot.

Doctor Louis Pasteur remarked that “Fortune favours the prepared mind”, and similarly, getting good at timing is about preparation. For instance, the discipline of saving will put you in good stead when a good deal comes by. Having acquired a sound education will help when a job opens up. Being out there will enhance your chances of meeting a partner.

Finally, timing requires that we understand the seasons of our life. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon said there is a time for everything, “a time to plant, and a time to uproota time to tear down and a time to build”.

To get good at timing, learn to observe the seasons of your life and take appropriate action in them. With regular practice we get better at anticipating the right timing until we begin to hit that sweet spot where all the corn is popping.