Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rhythm & Flow

I think of my job as a rhythm job. I work with people, and the work has to do with understanding and meeting their needs. And I’ve noticed that how I’m doing has a lot to do with rhythm.

Some days nothing comes easy. I might experience a string of no-shows, and fail to find any of my clients in the places I can usually count on finding them. And on these days, even if I do connect, the meetings often have a flatness, a kind of emptiness to them. There are engagements with clients that, no matter how much I intend to focus of solutions and moving ahead, seem mired in the dead weight of the situation we’re trying to work our way out of. Such meetings feel like punishment. The most I feel capable of at such times is the completion of applications, collecting the data that goes into files, or the plotting of next steps – setting appointments for tackling specific tasks. It’s not nothing, but such meetings are rarely enlivening; they don’t leave one feeling that they are on an upward course.

But on other days – my rhythm days – there is a sense of flow and freshness, and of freedom, almost. It’s a feeling of being alive, but also of being buoyed up and carried forward by the flow of life. And things happen. On these days, my appointments happen, and the engagements generate something. On these days I find the clients I’m looking for, or when I don’t, I encounter someone else I need to find, or that someone else finds me. On such days, meetings with clients have an energy to them; there is a sense of change as a present and active force, abundant and pervasive. Solutions and strategies seem to arise spontaneously on such days, out of the simple act of being present to a person and a situation.

I’ve noticed that this sense of positive possibility doesn’t have to do merely with feeling good, though it certainly has to do with feeling present and unburdened. I’m able to access these days best when I’m not over-determining what’s to be accomplished, when my agenda is less rigid, when I’m in a mode of ‘offering’ rather than ‘delivering’. But I don’t think it’s only about mood and attitude. I think it has something to do with alignment, with being synchronized.

I notice that on my rhythm days, I’m more tolerant of the unexpected, and I’m more likely to follow an impulse, perhaps to drop in on a client, to investigate a resource, or to be self-disclosing. On such days, there’s less of a sense of being at work, and more of a sense of being in my life. But this doesn’t have only to do with work either. The rhythm factor is at work everywhere. On an off-rhythm day, I pick up my saxophone and I play like an elementary school kid with a leaky instrument and a stiff, hard reed. But on a rhythm day, the music soars out of me from the moment the mouthpiece touches my lips.

I strongly suspect that I’m more efficient on these days, and that my decisions and choices on such days lead to better outcomes. Though I can’t be sure of this, since my subjective sense of things is so strong, and so slanted. I’m puzzling over how to create more of these days. I guess it’s the same as puzzling over how to be more alive.

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