Prelude: Preceding the music
In the symphony of life, where the demands of being a parent, husband, wife, employee and student create a relentless circle, it is easy to forget the transformative power of slowing down. Navigating the complex composition of responsibilities, assignments, and personal commitments, the importance of rest and finding your rhythm often takes a back seat. However, it is essential to recognise that true excellence lies not just in continuously pushing forward but in the strategic dance of slowing down and then building momentum to ease into excellence.
Fermata: Successful people know when to slow down
Successful people know when to push and when to pause, and they tend to go against the pace that everyone else has been indoctrinated to go. This is precisely why large companies, such as Forbes, encourage a flux mindset, where people have the opportunity to slow down, and instead of looking at what is right in front of them, they are able to see the gaps and the niches where most people fail to look.
Finding your natural rhythm
All living organisms, humans, animals and even plants, have natural rhythms and times of fluctuations between thriving and slowing down. Animals hibernate, and plants bloom not throughout the year but in season. Also, think of the natural rhythm of the ocean. The Western World wants us to believe that we should continue to push, push, push even in seasons where rest is desperately needed and vital to gain perspective. If we ignore these natural rhythms, we will voice our exhaustion and distraction and make poor decisions.
Rhythms of rest and work are needed daily, weekly and yearly. It involves tuning in to your body, mind and spirit to discern when it is time to push forward and when to pause. Finding your rhythm means discovering the pace and flow that feels natural to you. Pay attention to what resonates with you, what makes you thrive, and what brings you peace. These pauses are essential for us to re-discover what we choose and what truly makes us happy rather than just surging forward with what is handed to us.
If you think about it, so much of what is happening around us is actually given meaning in our minds and through our thinking. There are no two people who experience the same situation precisely the same. Therefore, it makes sense that if we want to change something, figure out what direction to go or simply make better decisions, we start with what is in our minds. In times of uncertainty, our inner resources are really all we have, and to access these resources, we need to bring stillness into a world of commotion.
Tempo rubato: slowing down
Author Tammy Strobel explains this concept of slowing down by quoting Pico Iyer’s 2014 TedTalk, The Art of Stillness: “… in an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”
I cannot explain it in a better way than Pico Iyer; there is an urgency for us to get still and get in sync with our inner rhythm. In my own experience, slowing down is a process. It starts with small conscious efforts just to breathe, feeling the air going in and out of your lungs. Taking off your shoes and just sitting on the grass, listening to the wind playfully rustling through the leaves, getting still enough to hear what your body has to say and reflect on what is truly important and what makes you happy. Sometimes, we need to disconnect to be able to reconnect and build a more excellent and meaningful momentum.
In Pico Iyer’s words: “… you can go on your next vacation to Paris or Hawaii, or New Orleans; I bet you will have a wonderful time. But if you want to come back home alive and full of fresh hope, in love with the world. I think you might want to try considering going nowhere. “
In other words, being still (being nowhere), taking an intentional pause, a rest note to reflect, orchestrating your rhythm and easing back into excellence.
Overture, fermata, rhythm, tempo rubato and outro – these are not just musical terms but essential elements for living an enriched and harmonious life. Remember that finding your rhythm is not a destination but a continuous journey of self-discovery and transformation. It is an ever-evolving dance of knowing when to slow down and when to surge forward. Slowing down allows us to reconnect with ourselves, tune into our inner rhythm, and orchestrate a life of purposeful excellence. The beauty of this rhythm is that it’s uniquely ours, moving to the beat of our individual hearts. Much like the musical genius Leonard Cohen, through our journey of finding our rhythm, we have the potential to create a symphony that resonates far and wide. In the end, by attuning ourselves to this rhythm, we can genuinely say ‘Hallelujah’ to a life lived with authenticity, intention, and excellence.
I leave you with Pico Iyer’s dear friend Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. He wrote this song during a period of being still while at Mount Baldy Zen Centre, working as a full-time monk. The record “Old Ideas” went to number 1 in 17 nations of the world.
Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Live in London)
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Sources of Inspiration:
Cohen, L. (2009, October 03). Hallelujah (Live in London). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrLk4vdY28Q
Corda, R. (2020, September 25). Building a healthy rhythm of work and rest. Every Nation Campus. https://enc.ph/building-a-healthy-rhythm-of-work-and-rest/
Eisler, M. (2021, January 20). A strategic leadership paradox: Slow down to speed up. Wide Lens Leadership. https://widelensleadership.com/slow-down-to-speed-up/
Gotain, R. (2021, August 24). When slowing down can help you be more productive. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ruthgotian/2021/08/24/when-slowing-down-can-help-you-be-more-productive/?sh=68f93dbd320f
Iyer, P. (2014, August). The art of stillness. TEDSalon NY2014 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.ted.com/talks/pico_iyer_the_art_of_stillness?language=en
Iyer, P. (2020, April 2). The art of stillness in a world that can’t stop moving. House of Beautifull Business. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfMnpry8LGk
Kessler, S. (n.d.). Screw work-life balance and focus on work and rest rhythms instead. Stacy Kessler: Small Business Strategist. https://www.stacykessler.me/blog/work-life-balance-alternative
Kleinhans, L & Van der Walt, E. (2021, August 10). Work rest rhythm. Neurozone: Thought Leadership. https://blog.neurozone.com/work-rest-rhythm-0
Leader for Good. (2020, December 16). Rhythm of Work: Successful People know when to push and pause. https://leaderforgood.com/rhythm-of-work-right-timing/
Strobel, T. (n.d.). 10 Ways to get off your phone and into your life. Bemorewithless. https://bemorewithless.com/author/tammyestrobel/
Venter, A. (2021, December 09). COVID taught us the importance of slowing down.CPA. https://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/2021/12/09/covid-taught-us-the-importance-of-slowing-down/46440/
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