Time is an Illusion; Timing is a Science

by Stacey Pyrzanowski- Business Development.

In January 2007 a man and his violin went to the Metro station in Washington, D.C. and played 6 Bach pieces during rush hour. A handful of people stopped, but only for a few seconds. A few dropped some money in the till, but mostly everyone else paid no attention to the classical masterpieces being played by this unknown gentleman in the corner. After about 45 minutes, he packed up his belongings, and left. -No applause, no standing ovation, no recognition at all.(1)

What makes this story interesting is that just two nights earlier, this same man, who happened to be famous violinist Joshua Bell, played to a sold-out theater in Boston, with the same violin (worth $3.5 million dollars). Tickets were selling for an average $100 each, and every seat was taken. People were standing, cheering, and demanding to hear more.(2) What’s wrong with this scenario?

Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell

It is March 19th, 2019 and I’m making cold calls, sending emails, thinking creatively, and looking for new ways to capture a business’s interest in the services my company offer. This task is not hard to do, but it is the response rate that is the challenge. And just as Joshua Bell showed up to do what he loved the most, I too, do the job I love to do. I enjoy reaching out to people I’ve yet to meet. Sure, the lack of responses can be defeating (statistics show that 270 calls need to be made in order to get one sale!). (3)

But to avoid frustration, I remember this story of Joshua playing in the subway and the advice I was given, that if you love what you do, keep doing it, regardless whether or not the audience is ready. There will be a time and a place for the event you are waiting for, just like Joshua had his at the theater. For me, the '“big show” is to get the sales meetings I’m seeking. I’m successful because I’ve got perseverance, and I’m present.

I never feel like I have wasted my time, even if I don’t get a positive response to my calls or emails. Physics has convinced me that time is just an illusion, and if I don’t hold on to the memory and disappointment of a missed sale, I can easily move on to the next call.

Just as in the social experiment mentioned above, it wasn’t a lack of talent that prevented people from stopping to listen to Bell’s beautiful music, it was just missed timing. I realize that the people I’m calling may not always be ready to act, even though they received my message. The timing may not be right, and circumstances may not allow for interaction, right then and there. They may just be busy and distracted, much like the commuters in the subway, focused on getting home.

So if Einstein and his followers are correct that “time is but an illusion”(3) then what really matters is timing, And yes, there really is such a thing as the science of timing. In his book, When, Daniel Pink says research shows that there is an ideal time to do everything we do. It’s a fascinating read, and I learned that “afternoons are the Bermuda Triangles of our days,” to quote the author. Apparently, surgeons make more mistakes, students do worse on tests, and jurors are more likely to fall prey to stereotypes, after 3pm!

Would Joshua Bell’s performance have been better received in the subway station if he had played in the early part of the day? I don’t know. But I do now know, that I will always try to stack the scientific odds in my favor, and make my sales calls before 3 in the afternoon!

Just for fun:

You may view a portion of the video of Joshua Bell’s subway performance posted on the Washington Post’s website.

I’m particularly fascinated by Nassim Haremein‘s (2017 recipient of the prestigious Einstein Award) concise explanation of the phenomenon that Time is an Illusion.

(1)(2) https://www.thoughtco.com/a-violinist-in-the-metro-3299658

(3) https://blog.zoominfo.com/21-statistics-to-improve-your-cold-calls/

(4) http://www.physics-astronomy.com/2016/05/according-to-einstein-time-is-illusion.html#.XJPzQbh7lPY