How Bezos & Musk See'Time' Differently

How you perceive time has a profound effect on how you make decisions

Bezo’s and Musk’s success is largely due to the fact that they see time differently. When you see time differently, you see the world differently.

When I say time, I don’t refer to the time you see on your watch. The concept of time is much more complex than what you see on a watch. It’s one of the least understood concepts in the universe. We are surrounded by it every day. It’s an invisible force that affects every part of your life. But, we barely think about it.

There are couple of reasons why you should intentionally think about time

  1. To unleash the power of long game like Bezos and Musk.

  2. You can use Time as a mental model to solve difficult problems.

Unleash the power of long game

Long-term thinking has three major advantages. 

  1. Thinking long-term gives you an “arbitrage” opportunity and ability to create natural monopolies 

“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. 

But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue.”― Jeff Bezos

This arbitrage leads to natural monopolies in the long run. Look where Amazon today after 2 decades of existence. 

  1. Long-term time horizons lead to better decision making

  • According to a study done by Stanford professor, Philip Zimbardo, people's attitudes are five fold.

    • Past positive people focus on good old days

    • Past negative people focus on all things that went wrong in the past

    • Present hedonistic people live in the moment

    • Present fatalistic people think “What will be, will be”

    • Future-oriented people plan for future and trust their decisions will work out

According Zimbardo, each of the mindsets is like living in a completely different world. People like Bezos and Musk fall under the future-oriented category. 

Which mindset do you have? Is it optimized to take advantage of long-term time horizons?

  1. Long-term thinking comes with the power of compounding

According to Einstein, compound interest is the world’s eighth biggest wonder. When you expand your time horizon, you naturally unlock the power of compounding. This means your continuous efforts over a period of time lead to compounded rewards.

According to Physics, it is not possible for one object to exert a force without experiencing a reciprocal force. Your day-to-day life and every action is subject to the laws of Physics. This means, when you continuously work towards a goal over a period of time, the world has no choice other than giving you what you asked for. Expanding your time-horizon help you unlock this.

Use Time as a mental model

Mental models help you solve difficult problems and improve your quality of thinking. Many mysteries and problems become clearer if you extend the timeline.

For example, we don’t know where an asset class like bitcoin will be in 10 years time. But if we extend the timeline and change our vantage point of looking at the answer to this problem, we can come up with a bit more clearer answer. Have you tried solving your problems by applying time as a mental model?

Read The Great Mental Models Volume 2: Physics, Chemistry and Biology to learn more about other mental models.


How you perceive time has a profound effect on how you make decisions. You can’t understand time by looking at the watch. Think long-term to unlock arbitrage opportunities, make better decisions and capitalize on the power of compounding. Use Time as a mental model to get a different vantage point and solve problems where you are stuck.

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