« [The Romanian] is wasteful with time, more so than people from the West. Time is anything for the Romanian but a currency. At the fair, he haggles for hours for whatnots. The same goes for parties; he loses days and nights»; «It is said that [the Romanian] is undisciplined working in the economic field. While people from the West keep a regular rhythm, like clockwork, the Romanian people know disorderly work, more like play. The Romanian does not work methodically, but in leaps; he has long periods of rest, and if needed, he will work double tides and do slave work »
Constantin Rădulescu Motru (1998)
The history of the concept
The concept of the timeline was introduced even since Ancient Greece, and William James, one of the parents of modern psychology, affirmed over a century ago that our perceptions of the events of our lives span over « a string of time ». Therefore, for thousands of years, it has been acknowledged that people had their own representation of time in themselves. In other words, each person has their own way of representing, storing, and keeping time in their own body.
At the beginning of developing the timeline, it was said that Europeans generally tend to represent their timeline as passing through them, facing the future, living in the present, and with the past behind them. This is a classical In Time position.
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On the other hand, Americans represent the timeline in front of them, with the past on the left, the present in front of them, and the future on the right. It is the classical Meta Time (Through Time) position.
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This generalization was later retracted because people can have different perceptions in different contexts (e.g., In Time relaxing during the weekend, but “very” Meta Time during business hours). All the other positions derive from these two basic ones, with slight variation. According to how someone perceives it, the timeline is split into two big categories: In Time and Meta Time.
Some specialists also consider Between Time and/or Across Time, arguing that they cannot be classified as subtypes of one of the above.
Before anything else, it is essential to keep in mind that there are no “In Time people” and “Meta Time people”, even though these attitudes are easier to approach concerning an (apparently) dichotomous meta-type. The timeline offers essential clues as to how a client will think and react in the context for which the timeline was elicited. Throughout one’s life, this perception may change about many factors. People often present both characteristics in different contexts.
The perception of time in different cultures
For example, there is predominantly In Time perception in Spain, Italy, and Portugal. There is, in extremes, that ”dolce far niente” can also be found in Romanians. Romanians have a strong inclination towards In Time, even when it comes to projects. Planning is not one of our strong suits as a people. All this considered, a fascinating phenomenon is happening in Romania from a generational change standpoint. Muşătoiu (2006) shows, in an article that was awarded in the science and technology section of the Young Journalist of 2007 contest, organized by Freedom House and Edipresse AS, how the psychology of the personality is being influenced by technology in Romania and labels the Y generation as multitasking and technological par excellence.
People with a Meta Time perspective are excellent business people. There is no way that a business freelancer will ever accomplish anything if he or she does not have a Meta Time perspective.
You rarely find people in leadership positions with an In Time perspective, and they will not remain there for long. However, any job requiring the ability to work with more than one schedule and to plan and do more than one thing at a time demands a Meta Time perspective.
Japan, the USA, Germany, and China offer examples of Meta Time cultures. It is the subjective opinion of the author of this article that it is highly likely that in certain countries before they went under American economic influence, there was a clear and dominant In Time perception 60-90 years ago. With the loans from the American funds, the population started changing their mentality towards a new value system and their perception of time, from In Time to Meta Time.
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Example of complex representation of a timeline by Philmore1q2w3e4r (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
NLP and the certification system for the timeline
Though a self-standing domain as an accredited form of psychotherapy, the timeline has been getting an extraordinary contribution from NLP through research, books, training, and presentations for decades. The timeline is a certification field recognized by the American Board of Psychotherapists. This one needs forming and licensing, just like any other therapy field. Those with this accreditation have the right to work as timeline psychotherapists if they have a previous qualification as a psychotherapist or as HR consultants in organizations.
Some specialists prefer a certification offer that includes neuro-linguistic programming and a timeline. Training lasts approximately 2 weeks, and it contains 3 different levels, after which the trainee gets the right to practice on an international level, and it is also recognized by the American Board of Psychotherapists.
This is a method to deepen the applicative field in which the student needs to master the qualifications (s)he needs to train in light of his/her professional development:
• interpreting the personality according to the way the timeline is visualized;
• modifying the perception of the timeline;
• therapeutic interventions to resolve past trauma;
• planning the personal and professional future using the timeline;
• professional career counseling;
• personal and professional development and management;
• improvement of communication and planning skills.
Definitely useful for a career counselor.
Rădulescu Motru, Constantin (1998). Psihologia poporului român şi alte studii de psihologie socială, Bucureşti, Paideia, pages 24-25, acquired from http://www.scribd.com/doc/47379717/Psihologia-Poporului-Roman at 9.09.2017;
James, William (1890). Principles of Psychology: Volume I, Holt, New York, New York, USA, apud Howard, C. (2003) The NLP & Leadership Master Practitioner Audio training (Audio set), Manhattan Beach, California, USA;
Mitrică, Mihai; Nicolae, Crenguţa (26 iunie 2007) Încă un premiu, Business Magazin, acquired from http://www.businessmagazin.ro/actualitate/inca-un-premiu-2512903 at 9.09.2017;
Muşătoiu, Mihai (27 iunie 2006) Generaţia Multitasking, Business Magazin, acquired from http://www.businessmagazin.ro/cover-story/generatia-multitasking-1051639 at 9.09.2017
Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2007-present. Translation by Ștefan Constantin Bădrăgan in 2017 of the article ”Linia timpului” published in Romanian at the 6th of August 2012 on Discerne. The original material was written and initially published in 2015. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved