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Cutting Edge Ideas from 2500 Years Ago )
 Helping Managers and Salespeople Thrive in Turbulent Times Vol. 1, #8, September 2003 
in this issue
  • The Only Dance There Is
  • About Jim Schaffer & Associates


  • Greetings!

    This month we explore how to transform your battlefield into something a whole lot more vibrant.

    Just click "reply" to send along your comments at any time.

    Best regards,

    Jim Schaffer
    President, Jim Schaffer & Associates


    The Only Dance There Is

    For fifteen years, I have made it a practice to take nothing more topical to read on vacation than Food & Wine magazine. This year, as I re-engaged upon my return, it became apparent that the newscape had not changed: war remained by far the dominant theme.

    In business, too, we tend to look at things through the metaphor of war. People often speak of "deploying resources," or "formulating a battle plan," and employment ads warn that companies are looking for "hunters only."

    Though it's fashionable these days to speak of "win-win", we know the phrase does not accurately reflect our daily reality.

    I was very fortunate, in 1985, to have an epiphany that transformed my career: Business is not a war at all — it's a dance. That may seem entirely metaphorical, but as an over-arching lens through which to view one's career, it's life-changing.

    Once we see business as a dance, then annihilation is no longer the goal. At most, we shoot for temporary domination or a chance to outshine others for a finite period of time. What were once painful struggles become a series of creative exercises.

    And it's more fun than all this war stuff. Instead of "deploying resources," we can "get our Mojo working." Rather than striking fear into the hearts of the enemy, we "strut our stuff." What might seem like a skirmish with a difficult customer might instead be seen as an elaborate tango. And, rather than being in "lock-step" with our colleagues, we might be in perfect, smooth harmony, like the Temptations pictured above.

    Here's my favorite movie line of the past ten years:


    "The difference between you and me, Jerry, is that you think we're fighting and I think we're finally starting to talk."
    Cuba Gooding, Jr. to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire


    If everything and everyone is part of the dance, then there's really no enemy, no "other." We're all different parts of the same fandango. Some parts may be difficult, some may cause us pain, but there's no real separation between you, your colleagues, your customers, even your competitors.

    We also need to remember that, just as in a dance, the music stops after awhile. Something new comes on, often with a different tempo, and everyone gets a chance to show his new routine. No song lasts forever.

    So how do we develop a deep, internal sense of dancing with our work-lives instead of the embattled posture we now hold?

    Believe it or not, just planting the images in your mind is powerful enough. Try this:close your eyes for a minute in the morning and, after a few deep breaths, visualize the great swirl of people and situations you deal with everyday, both the ones that give you positive energy and the ones that drain you. Then picture the last scene from Grease or Dirty Dancing or some other favorite movie where the characters pull together at the last minute and break into song and dance. Insert your own cast of characters into the picture.

    If you do this for a number of weeks, I promise you will find yourself smiling in the midst of difficult situations.

    Here are some things to keep in mind to support your vision:


    1. Feel the Beat! Some situations require serious footwork, while for others you just need to be smooth and steady while you guide things a little bit. It's important to tune in to what the music calls for.
    2. Ask Others to Dance. You're not planning on being out there alone, are you? Invite others into your rhythmic universe. As you feel the beat, you begin to export it to others, spreading your life-force and enhancing the situation for everyone.
    3. Difficult People Are Dance Partners, Too. There is a reason they have shown up in your life. Learning to dance is not easy for most of us, but it's a skill that offers us many opportunities to grow.

    4. A Dance Without Spirit is No Dance At All. We've all danced with people out of obligation, and it felt more like root canal than a sensual exercise. It's only when your spirit is engaged that you can communicate at your best and allow those around you to feel that they've been included in your dance and you're participating in theirs.


    The more you approach business through the metaphor of dance, the less you are able to treat it as war and, paradoxically, the more effective you are as a "warrior." This idea is an outgrowth of one of the world's most famous ancient texts: the Tao te Ching.

    So let others "deploy" and put together their "plan of attack." You're going to be far more effective tuning into the rhythm and letting your spirit decide which moves will carry you through the day.

    I leave you with some of the best business advice I ever received, proffered forty years ago by those great spiritual messengers known as the Isley Brothers:


    Well shake it up baby now,
    Twist & shout,
    C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, baby now,
    C'mon and work it on out.


    See You On The Floor!

    To read previous issues of "Cutting Edge Ideas" click here

    About Jim Schaffer & Associates

    Jim Schaffer & Associates helps management teams & salespeople stay focused, get results and keep high morale — regardless of what may be going on around them.




    Copyright 2003 by Jim Schaffer & Associates.

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         voice: 617-332-9105
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