#188: In May 1915, a renowned 58-year-old sea captain, Captain William Thomas Turner, made a series of questionable decisions.
He was the captain of the Lusitania, a ship with 1,959 passengers, sailing from Manhattan to London. The first World War was taking place around them, and Captain Turner knew he needed to move swiftly to evade German submarines.
His ship approached England; land was in sight. They had almost made it. Yet for reasons that will always remain a mystery, around 1 pm on May 7th, Captain Turner slowed the speed of the vessel to around 18 knots, slower than the 21 knots that they needed to outpace the threat of submarines. Around 45 minutes later, he executed what's called a "four-point bearing," which forced him to pilot the ship in a straight line rather than a zigzag course, which would be better for outmaneuvering torpedoes.
At 2:10, the ship was ripped apart by a torpedo. Nearly 1,200 people were killed. Since that fateful day, historians have pondered why he made those two decisions, simple choices which may have permanently altered the lives of thousands.
Today's podcast guest, Daniel Pink, has an unusual theory. He believes Captain Turner may have made those sloppy choices because it was the afternoon.
Daniel Pink is the author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. In his book, he makes the case that the time-of-day in which we take actions -- early morning, mid-afternoon, or nighttime -- makes a bigger impact than we realize. Our energy and attention unfold in waves, with a rise, then a drop, then a resurgence.
The secret to perfect timing isn't simply a matter of managing daily routines, however. Daniel Pink also shows how this pattern emerges over the span of a natural human life, with the choices we make in our sunset years more prone to editing, to curating, than the choices we make in our younger years when time feels abundant. Senior citizens may have smaller circles of friends, he says, not due to loneliness but rather because they're editing their circles down to the few people who matter most.
He discusses how midlife is a fascinating point in which our brains signal that we've squandered half of our time. These midpoints can act as either a slump or a propellant.
He talks about how we appreciate things more if we believe that they're ending. In one study, researchers gave five Hershey Kisses to subjects; they asked the subjects to rate their taste and enjoyment. When the researchers handed out the fifth Hershey Kiss, they told half of the subjects "here is your fifth chocolate," and they told the other half of the subjects, "here is your final chocolate." The ones who were told that they were receiving the final chocolate rated their enjoyment of it more highly.
How much does timing affect our lives? How do we manage our days, and our decades, with a stronger awareness of the way that chronology impacts our mood, energy and priorities?
Daniel Pink answers these questions in his book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. He talks about it on today's show.
For more information, visit the show notes at https://affordanything.com/188