Robert Poynton
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Rhythm versus Pace

February 2, 2012 – 1 min read


One of my neighbours, Vicente, lives mostly off the land. Nature made him a very elegant calendar, with a beautiful cadence from one crop to another, preparing, sowing, fertilising, harvesting, pruning. Olives, then figs, then cherries, then chestnuts in a cycle of cycles throughout the year.
Quite a contrast to the clients who always want the workshop by the end of the following month. Three months go by, they call again, and curiously enough they still have to have it by the end of the following month, except that now its June not February.

To me, Vicente has light and shade in his way of working. There is an ebb and flow, which has both rhythm and harmony. Musical notions both, obviously. By contrast, the client wanting a workshop seems to me to have a flat, oppressive sense both of time and of their own priorities. There is little harmony or rhythm there, just a sense of building pressure and stress (driven by technology’s accelerating pace). As one of them said to me this morning “time is evaporating”.

I think we need to learn to appreciate variation more. If, as Tom Friedman suggests, the world is becoming flatter, we might ask ourselves what we have to do to find, or create, ebb and flow, peaks and troughs, intensity and reflection. In general, flat isn’t very attractive.

One thing might be to start to be more thoughtful about when the workshop really needs to be done by…..about when would be the right season for it. To think about whether it is connected more to sowing or reaping, fertilising or pruning. Do this, and my hunch is, we would find the rhythm of our own lives, like Vicente, who is one of the cheeriest people I know.

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