|Cutting Edge Ideas from 2500 Years Ago|
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:
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:
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:
Twist & shout,
C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, baby now,
C'mon and work it on out.
See You On The Floor!