Revolution Time: Looking at the Clock

“Power rarely ends up in the hands of those who start a revolution, or even those who further it; power sticks to those who bring it to a conclusion.”

Robert Greene

I think I am going to tack this up above my desk. Ken Robinson broke down the world situation in a profoundly illustrative way for me in his book. If we were to set up all of time on a clock, with each minute as roughly fifty years, you can start to appreciate where we are today in a “real” way. The internet is less than 15 seconds old. The car is less than 3 minutes old. Literally, less than 90 seconds ago people were living in America were living in dirt houses and sharing pants. Walker Evans didn’t just make that stuff up.

Getting there first is important of course, but it really only matters if you Get Things Done. All this idiot talk about how Mahalo is going to defeat Google, or that the iPhone will change the world is just that, idiot talk. None of it matters, none of it means anything. We weren’t really designed evolutionary to comprehend time in that way. That’s the whole problem with predictions, they don’t make much sense to us either. Raynor had a good example: If you predict that there is a 75% chance of rain tomorrow and it rains, that doesn’t mean you were right. There could have actually been a 99% chance, or a 1%.

This whole internet thing–though it has forever changed our lives–hasn’t changed everyone. It’s just getting started. Don’t fall prey to thinking that power today is fungible tomorrow or that a legacy just a few years down the road is anything more than whispers and memories. So there are three courses, as Robert outlines: to start, to prolong, to conclude. You can accept this or set yourself up for a fall. It seems to me that in this revolution, we are at the transition between the first and second step. The interim-men in history never win–they have a good time, the made some money but they do not win. Simply by nature of the cycle you destined to be replaced. Knowing this, why set yourself up for transience, when permanence could be yours?

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.