Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor."

Now that the academic year is in full swing, it’s time for me to start writing this blog again. For me this past month or so was first a time of quiet and then a busy time at work, so I let myself take a break. Part of dancing is paying attention to rhythm and timing. If you’ve ever tried dancing with a partner who doesn’t understand or doesn’t pay attention to rhythm and timing, you know how important it is. There’s a reason exercise classes use music – it does help keep the energy level up, but it also helps even the most rhythm challenged of us keep out of everyone else’s way.

It’s important to understand our own rhythms. Sometimes we need to get up and really move and get things done and sometimes we need to sit still and be quiet. The more we understand our rhythms and find ways to live in sync with those rhythms, the smoother our life dance becomes. It’s true in our home life as well. If my rhythm is the tortoise’s slow and steady wins the race and I share my living space with someone who prefers to emulate the hare, then at times we’re likely to have conflict. These differences can also work to our benefit if we let them. The partner who likes to get up and go can energize the ‘tortoise’. The partner who needs time to recharge and reflect can help the ‘hare’ learn the benefit of a little quiet time.

This understanding of timing and rhythm is also an important skill for leaders. There are times to push and people who need pushing; there are times to stop and reflect and help others do the same. There are people who need encouraged to step out of their comfort zones; there are people who need to be encouraged to stay within the rules and boundaries. And just to confuse the issue, some people need both.

Organizations have rhythms too. The rhythms may be based on the deadlines of the work or the style of the leader. Timing may be different throughout the year. External factors have an impact. The permutations and possibilities are nearly endless and leaders need to pay attention to each variable and to the interplay of them all.

When we stop to think about it, it can be a bit overwhelming. However, the simplest and most important way to develop this leadership skill of understanding organizational and staff rhythms and timing is to pay attention to ourselves. As we begin to understand about our own rhythms and timing, we become more in sync with the rhythms and timing of the people around us and the organizations we are part of.

So do you need a break or do you need to get up and go? What about the people around you? Just a little something to pay attention to this next week as you dance along your way.

Take care,


* The quote is by Hesiod dating 800 BC.

Okay this next part is just silly, but in looking for a quote about rhythm or timing I found this limerick and it made me laugh so I'm sharing it with you. It's attributed to Anonymous

There was a young woman named Jenny,
Whose limericks weren't worth a penny.
Her rhythm and rhyme
Were perfectly fine
But whenever she tried to write any,
She always had one line too many.

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