Practicing the Rhythm Method

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you achieve more with less. Reading time: 3:25

      Fred Astaire danced his way out onto a golf course driving range in the 1938 movie Carefree.

     golf swing Without missing a step, he picked up a golf club and swung at six balls each teed up and lined side by side.  He swung six consecutive times. All six shots landed on the green. The film crew was amazed. Fred Astaire had a rhythm—a sense of momentum that drives the productivity of all leaders.

      With a sense of rhythm, leaders get on a roll where it seems everything can be accomplished and nothing is impossible. With a sense of rhythm, leaders focus more on the task at hand like the military chants at boot camps when the soldiers are marching or running: “Sound Off 1-2, Sound Off 3-4, Cadence Chant, 1-2-3-4.”

      That chanting–that rhythm– powers passion and purpose; promise and performance. That’s why Nikos heralds rhythm in Zorba the Greek . Watching the seagulls , he beams : “That’s the road to take; find the absolute rhythm and follow it with the absolute trust.”

      That’s what leaders do. Leaders find the absolute rhythm and follow it with the absolute trust.

      Leaders quickly get into the swing of things. They flow with the action. They “let” it happen as the Zen philosophers espouse. In a rhythm. With a purpose. Practicing the rhythm method, leaders purposely give birth to well-conceived ideas optimally timed and targeted rather than struggle with unplanned  consequences they may have to ruefully pursue or regretfully abort.

           Ebb & Flow of Rhythm

Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire

       Practicing the rhythm method, leaders recognize the ebb and flow that seems everywhere. Even in the human body: Rhythmically, leaders realize the menstrual cycles of women who live together become synchronized; the heart rate of a breast-feeding baby synchronizes with the mother; eight million blood cells die in the human body every second. And eight million new blood cells are formed every second. Rhythmically, leaders realize if a bright light is flashed into only one eye, the pupils of both eyes will constrict and dilate in unison; if you give your body less food to eat it will automatically slow down its metabolic rate, and  if you give your body more food than its needs it will automatically return to its normal weight when you stop overfeeding it.

        This rhythm-this holistic, systemic oneness that all leaders seek– is also evident in mother nature: Rhythmically, a hibernating animal will automatically start to shiver if it gets too cold. The shivering stirs muscle movement that generates heat . Rhythmically, minnows aboard the Skylab began swimming with their bellies toward a wall even though they were suspended in a plastic bag in a gravity-free environment.The minnows aligned themselves with the wall as if they were getting in rhythm with the bottom of a river. The minnows in a sense became enlightened. They became one.

   Minnows in Rhythm


MINNOWS  aligned themselves with the wall as if they were getting in rhythm with the bottom of a river.

     Those minnows established a sense of oneness as author John White defined enlightenment in his book What is Enlightenment. He noted the significance of harmony and rhythm in those who are enlightened (ie leaders). The author called enlightenment “the oneness of endless multiplicity and diversity…that the path and the destination are ultimately one.” Leaders in rhythm become enlightened. They establish a sense of oneness where the path and destination are ultimately one.

   How do you find this path of oneness in enhancing your own leadership skills? How do you become even more enlightened? How do you get in better step with your sense of rhythm? Don’t try too hard. Relax. Go with the flow. Let go to grow. Let go of your past to better grow into the future. Be like Fred Astaire. Don’t try to manage your swing or your life. Lead it. Take the parts and pieces of your game -and your life-and lead them into a more cohesive, more integrated, more effortless smooth swing. With rhythm.

Today’s ImproveMINT

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