Are you in tune with the rhythms that really work for you? Which ones drive your success and fulfillment and what gets in the way?
What awareness do you have of rhythms prevalent in your life and around you? Do you notice that most things have a rhythm? Do you also experience that there are times when you are more in rhythm and others when you aren’t at all? Are you a better you when you are in rhythm?
Obviously the most prevalent descriptions go around the rhythms contained in music, however Thesaurus also defines rhythm as “any sequence of regularly recurring functions or events” and then uses an example: “such as the regular recurrence of certain physiological functions of the body, as the cardiac rhythm of the heartbeat”.
In the context of what I’d like to discuss today, I see rhythm as one of many tools or approaches we can use to restore and maintain our life in Balance. Remember George and Ira Gershwin’s famous: “I’ve got rhythm; I’ve got music ….. who could ask for anything more?”
Starting with the four seasons, there are many typical rhythms or such patterns that can exert major (positive) impacts on our lives, if we allow ourselves to become aware of them. Sure we notice different weather of the different seasons etc, but our work and our lives have become so incredibly full and busy, that it’s quite easy lose sight of which season we’re in, isn’t it? Like simply going into a supermarket and taking that amazing supply chain for granted or expecting that the same (fresh) foods will always be available to suit our tastes all year round, right? And so we can quite easily miss some of the most fundamental patterns or rhythms around us.
I have it on fairly good authority that we are all born at a pretty young age, right? Then we go through childhood, experience adolescence, become adults, often parents, then grandparents and sometimes even great- grandparents. Fairly typical life cycles we all go through. You know – scholar, student, employee, professional, leader, employer etc?
How often do you actually take the time to reflect on your “chapters”, as outlined above?
- remind yourself of the chapters you have already completed, and all the learnings they brought
- take stock of where you currently find yourself
- and then with this hindsight draw a “line in the sand” that reflects some passion, some satisfaction, perhaps some disappointment – even some regret,
- upon which we can then map out some future directions and some plans that carry more substance and purpose?
I am amazed at how few have actually done this, even already successful people and almost every one of my clients remarks how remiss they’ve been and how valuable that reflection on (amongst other things) these cycles was when they were asked to complete my “pre-coaching questionnaire”.
Stress and Rhythm
Most of us encounter varying levels of stress throughout our careers and some more and some less during certain periods, don’t we? Sometimes we get close to or even experience overwhelm, right? It’s considered quite “normal” to have to go through that from time to time today.
Would you agree with me that the likelihood of being stressed is greater when we allow life to become erratic? Or conversely, that balance and rhythm manage to curb stress and the risk of overwhelm? That we find we are in “much better touch with ourselves” when in rhythm? I have found that when I’m “in rhythm” I am substantially more balanced, focused, sharp and productive. I’m also much happier. Those around me notice that.
One of the best examples I’d like to share with you to illustrate that was a 4 month consulting assignment in did up in (what was then still) sunny Queensland some years back. I lived alone in an apartment away from my family to concentrate fully on this task. I found a great personal routine. I caught the first ferry at 6h15 every morning and usually at the same time going home of an evening. Consequently my meals were taken at the same time every day, and often also on weekends. I brisk-walked for an hour and a half to two hours each evening. I meditated and read heaps. I focused on eating just the right foods for me. I was completely in rhythm. It was in this period that I lost 14kgs of weight and replaced some lifelong bad habits. Rhythm.
Whilst from an assignment perspective probably one of the toughest gigs I’ve ever done, I was however inwardly at my happiest with myself.
Today I notice pretty quickly when I’m not in rhythm. I’m more frustrated. I’m more impatient. I’m just not as productive. And I’m certainly not as positive and as happy as normal.
Oh shucks, I hear you groan – there’s that word again. Isn’t it remarkable how inevitably that word appears when we talk about success – any success? That’s right – discipline.
It starts with Leaping out of bed and making time each day for those personal things that matter, no matter how urgent or important those appointments are, particularly the early ones. I remember Joe Pane, a very successful professional fellow coach and trainer, talking about values. That your highest value couldn’t be health, if you couldn’t muster the discipline to get up half an hour before you needed to EVERY day to do what the health outcomes you valued required.
You know what I find? When I choose to sleep in instead of the discipline I’m talking about above, that is when I slip out of my rhythm. And that’s when all the things I spoke about start to happen.
So how do you stay in discipline so that you stay in rhythm?
Planning and Goals
I’ve said before that most of us invest more time planning an annual holiday than we ever do planning our life. And when we learn to plan, we learn to set goals for longer term results. And then we break them down into shorter term chunks so that we can manage them as activity goals, right?
That in itself is a rhythm, isn’t it? You know, setting goals for each of the next 12 months, and using them as a catalyst to drive our purpose and achieving what we really want. Rhythm.
Do you think Mark Webber can be as successful as he is without such goals, or discipline or rhythm? It’s no co-incidence that the fastest drivers are the smoothest, is it? They make it look so easy. They are in a flowing rhythm. Like being “in the zone” that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi speaks about in his book “Flow”.
In my blog Gesundheit! I spoke of where possible eating organically grown foods. Doing so has you notice that you are eating what’s in season, and we have found it helps us become more aware of the seasons and their respective rhythms. We aren’t always as “full on” as we might be in summer. Winter is a period that lends itself more towards reflection. (I don’t want to suggest hibernating, but there are a few animals that do just that aren’t there?)
Those of you that like me, are “African” will know what I’m talking about when I speak of a band of African labourers working in unison, for example manually digging a trench. They sing in wonderfully deep baritone voices while they are working, using the rhythm of their song so they all strike the next lunge with their picks in perfect unison. It is something that gives me Goosebumps. A great example of how together everyone achieves more (TEAM).
Most of my clients dedicate some quality time during a coaching program to “raise their game” to Networking. Building, growing, maintaining and enjoying a large professional network is something every successful business professional and leader needs to get really good at today. Doing something to grow your network every week just works so much better when you are in a rhythm. That rhythm comes from goals, purpose and discipline. And dare I say from loving what you are doing.
So having read or listened this far, what rhythms or cycles have you become more aware of? We all have daily, weekly, monthly, annual even decade rhythms or patterns, don’t we? Life is full of them.
Having reflected on that, which ones have you noticed work most or best for you? Which ones could you make work better for you if you focused on them some more? And what difference do you think that could make for you in your life’s work?
What if they could? And what if you could?