There are so many paradoxes in life, and we frequently find ourselves in the tension of BOTH. Both sorrow and joy. Both grief and celebration. Both gratitude and disappointment. When promising doors are closed, we are both disappointed and hopeful in anticipating what is next. What about rhythm and balance? What do rhythm and balance look like for a team? Can a team have both at once? Can an organization both embrace movement and resist change in different ways?
Sometimes as leaders we hold onto the fallacy that healthy teams regularly maintain a sense of balance. However, that’s often not the case. Balance is a rare gift among teams that typically lasts for a moment or short season. What does real balance even look like? Balancing workload, work life balance, balancing expectations…it likely means different things to different people. We put undue pressure on ourselves to achieve a sense of balance, especially when others on the team seem dissatisfied. What does it look like to focus on rhythm instead?
Rhythm seems to celebrate differences and there is an assumed pattern of movement or sound. Rhythm provides space for the ongoing shifts in a team regardless of the shape or form. Rhythm seems to provide opportunity to build trust for leaders as it creates space for accurately assessing changes rather than stressing to keep order and fairness. Rhythm seems to provide a sense of freedom and agility for entire teams as the unexpected occurs; rhythm expects change while balance resists change.
In 2019, Forbes magazine ran this article that shared the benefits of leaning into rhythm rather than striving for balance. “In today’s culture, we have taken this tool of weighing and comparing objects for equality and placed it upon our lifestyles. To establish control over our ever-changing, frustrating and fast-paced surroundings, we have set on our horizons the concept of balance that is seemingly a place of peace and happiness. What would life look like in this “balanced” place? Well, from the creation of the balance, we know that when equal weight on all sides is reached, the tool stops. There is no more movement. No more curiosity. No more discovery. No more creativity.” What does a win look like for your team or organization? What provides the best environment for innovation and growth?
In addition, rhythm seems to create an environment that encourages a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. Rhythm is awaiting the next movement, the next sound, the next beat that could lead to new opportunities. In contrast, balance is either present or not. Balance is either achieved or not. Rhythm invites grit because if the team stops now, there could be a win that is lost that comes with the next move. What does rhythm look like on a practical level? How do you consistently create joy around movement and change rather than resistance?
Chad Furlong offered some basic tips in his article titled, 6 Reminders for Maintaining your Leadership Rhythm. While these are offered as suggestions for individuals, these same principles could be applied to entire teams. After an unexpected setback, what does it look like to learn, grow, and develop a new strategy instead of 86ing the entire idea? How does discipline play out while maintaining excellence in the midst of obstacles?
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It’s interesting because both of these articles were written prior to 2020. How could rhythm be embraced in greater levels in the workplace in order to foster innovation and creativity? How is balance and the resistance to change and movement holding teams back? How do rhythm and risk collaborate for the greater good? These are powerful questions to consider as leaders and to share with teams, while recognizing sometimes it’s BOTH.