Have you ever started out on doing something with a lot of passion and enthusiasm only to find that after a period of time…say, a week…maybe two – your energy and passion starts to die? You know….. you lose the desire you once had.
Ok, let’s bring it closer to home. How about the diet you started two months ago with much gusto and determination… where is it now? After a few weeks things changed and you began to compromise… just a little… maybe around the edges… you know what I mean… a little here and a little more there… the next thing you know WHAM!! – you are right back doing what you were doing before you started the diet.
How about that decision you made several months ago to make some real and meaningful changes to your lifestyle? In fact you might have even gone so far as to hire a ‘personal coach’ to help you and then after a while – the focus becomes fuzzy, life creeps up, and one thing leads to another……the desire fades…… meaningful change does not happen.
Why is this? Why does this happen?
I think the answer lies in one simple word……RHYTHM.
What is Rhythm?
Rhythm is a musical term that describes the relative duration of sounds – a connecting of musical notes – to form a pattern, or a system of starting and sustaining a musical story.
Now wait, I know this sounds very simplistic so stay with me. It will be worth it.
Rhythm is a dynamically crucial element in life. Rhythm adds a whole new dimension to music. Instead of just varying a pitch a composer can also vary the rhythm and this creates the uniqueness of each musical story, giving each one it’s own character.
Rhythm is the most important element in music. It drives the music forward. It is the gasoline of music. A rhythm can be simple or complicated and it is this great diversity of opportunity that makes music so powerful and memorable.
Why is Rhythm so Important?
Music has been highlighted as being the usher of cultural change. Some of you may remember the Sixties (some of you may not want to but all the same…).
The Sixties was when “Rock and Roll” made its collision with mainstream culture and people like the Beetles and Elvis Presley became the forefathers for a huge cultural gateway.
Do you remember when the era of peace love and happiness was beginning… well, once again the music reflected this way of thinking, acting and feeling.
The Beetles and Elvis were the first real artists to make it big and to have a following of a tremendous magnitude. That rebel rock and roll, grow my hair long, and shake my hips seed was planted into our culture. This started a snowball effect that led into the Seventies and Eighties cultures of “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll”.
Here’s where it gets good; music found new meaning in the lives of people all over the world. Music began to protest things like war and political issues for example the environment.
When the world is in pain the rhythm and message of music plays a key role in addressing the wrongs and the tragedy’s and works hard to bring things back to a balance.
The nineties began the advance of Hip-Hop, Rap and Pop music. In a culture of fast pace “dog eat dog” type attitudes many new music styles came about. People became inspired to branch out and create their own kinds of music and dance.
Dance clubs and electronic music began to make their way on to the scene. A vast new kind of music called Rap/Hip-Hop made a huge impact on the culture of the world, first America and then the rest of the world. The words and behavior of rap reflect a way of life, an attitude or a “culture”. Most of this music talks about the streets or growing up poor and how the artist has made it big now. Not to really to support this music but it has made a huge impact on my generation. A whole hip-hip culture has sprung up from this urban movement. Apparatuses in this culture have come about to create things like a style of fashion, and its own sort of dialect called Ebonics,
All this from a movement of music – rhythms – started by African American cultures twenty or thirty years ago.
Music and Defeating The Enemy Called Average run parallel.
Rhythm creates order, discipline and consistency. Rhythm gives a basic structure for coordination, cohesion and comprehension. Skipping rhythmic beats creates chaos and adverse consequences.
Successful planning and execution of strategies in a business is a rhythmic process. When executives come together for yearly, quarterly, monthly, daily meetings and stay focused on important things, great results are generated.
In the meetings the discussion revolves around important things that help executives set their priorities. In addition, a rhythmic behavior at the highest level of the organisation creates a culture of learning and development through creation of good habits.
So I hear you asking…”What does this have to do with staying on track?”
Good question and I’m glad you asked.
Staying On Track
Albert Einstein and a small group of people were once working on a scientific paper, and when they were done, they needed a paper clip. They looked around and found one, but it was bent out of shape. So they started looking around for a tool they could use to bend it back into a usable shape, when they came across a whole box of paper clips.
Einstein immediately took out a good paper clip, and bent it into a tool that he then used to bend the original paper clip back into a usable shape. One of the group asked, "What are you doing bending that paper clip into shape when we have a whole box of perfectly good ones?" Einstein's reply was, "Once I'm set on a goal, it becomes difficult to deflect me."
He said later in his life that this little incident characterized him more than any other. It's a silly incident, and a foolish waste of time to bend the paper clip back, but the habit of staying on a track is extremely powerful, and fully worth it even if sometimes the habit wastes some time foolishly.
This little true story serves us a great lesson in staying on track. The world is full of enticing temptations to pull us off track – away from our worthwhile mission, away from our Life Compass.
Everyday now you will open your newspaper, or go online and read of a world full of catastrophes and annoying circumstances that take people off track.
Everyday, everywhere you go, you will come face to face with people who want your attention, your energies, and your money to go somewhere other than down your track.
The world is literally screaming for your attention. Advertisers, salespeople, your friends, your enemies, and your own mother want your attention. They want you to take your attention off your goals for a moment and put your attention on their goals.
Staying on track is a tremendous test of will and your will need to create a rhythm so that you cannot be enticed by the sideshows of life.
Robert B. McCall, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh and his colleagues have kept track of 6,700 people for 13 years. Specifically, they are tracking people who were underachievers in school — people who, according to aptitude tests, had a lot of potential to get good grades, but who, in reality, had low grade-point averages.
After 13 years, only about 15% of them had achieved a kind of career success equal to their abilities.
What do they lack? Two things, according to McCall: ‘persistence in the face of challenge,’ (read…. inability to stay on track) and they are ‘too self-critical’ (read… not avoiding negative input).
Staying on track in the face of challenge requires you to be in rhythm not just movement. You can’t be pretending – you have to have your eyes fixed on the prize!
So, let’s close this series out with a little coaching toolkit for you. (By the way, if you’re looking for a blinding flash of brilliance may I suggest you go back to part one of this series and start over again!)
Here’s what you do start a rhythm and stay on track: Know what your ‘Most Important’ is……
- Know your single most important thing to accomplish in the year
- Know your most important action in the next 90 days that will help you accomplish your single most important thing for the year
- Know your most important thing for the month that will help you accomplish the most important thing for the next 90 days
- Know your most important thing for the week that will help you accomplish the most important thing for the month
By knowing what your ‘Most Important’ is, you will be able to develop a rhythm and stay on track, which replaces hope with purpose, which pursues a mission that is worthy of pursuit, which Defeats the Enemy Called Average.
I heard the true story about a schoolbus driver who was able to send his children to medical school, private colleges, and graduate school, and then he retired with a net worth of three million dollars. A schoolbus driver! I kid thee not.
Well, as we all know a schoolbus driver does not make a lot money so, how did he do it? Yes, he was a consistently frugal man, and that is important in this story…… but there is one other critically important feature in this story that is worthwhile highlighting.
This schoolbus driver said, “Being a schoolbus driver gives me a lot of free time every day to do what I love doing, consistently, everyday, year after year. I love investing and growing my investments and I have the time I need to read about investments and then very intelligently and well-informedly invested my money.“
That was his secret… he stayed on track. That's how he did it. Not with a supreme exertion but with staying on purpose no matter what the temptations or distractions.
The closing words…..
You will be taken off track again and again until you learn to stick with your purpose – stay on track! Yes, you can get to the level of Einstein's concentration. You can be like the schoolbus driver. All you need to do is find your rhythm.
With your rhythm you will be a laser beam, cutting through obstacles and barriers with hardly a pause, flying strait to your objective with power and speed.
Until next week… fight the good fight, stay on track and defeat the enemy called average!
Part Four of the Series – Defeating the Enemy Called Average