play, pause, fast forward and rewind

 

Finding the white space

 

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“The fragile structure of logic fades and disappears against the emotional onslaught of hushed tone, a dramatic pause, and the soaring excitement of a verbal crescendo.”

 

——-

Bill Bernbach

 

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“It was the in-between time, before day leaves and night comes, a time I’ve never been partial to because of the sadness that lingers in the space between going and coming.”

 

——

Sue Monk Kidd

 

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Ok.

 

Far too often when talking about pacing in life and business … we focus on Pause and Playslowing down.’ We do that because we have convinced ourselves that not only is the world moving at a faster pace than ever before but that we actually have to move really fast or we are not doing something right.

 

I will not debate the sheer amount of shit we are faced with in any given moment but I would debate our concept of speed and moving fast and our unhealthy belief there is not enough time.

 

Not everything has to be done immediately.

 

Not everything should be done with minimal information.

 

Not every moment has some magical window of opportunity that we will miss out on if we do not act ‘now!’.

 

Now.

This is a little weird when we stop and think about it.

 

Facing reality, as an individual, it can appear like a speed boat … crashing through waves with any significant milestones flashing by so fast they become a blur.

 

Facing reality, collectively. It can appear like a fully loaded tanker … plowing its way through the waves where significance is measured, if significance is discernible at all, in broad sweeping miles of slow turns.

 

That’s life in a nutshell. That is time in a nutshell. That is reality in a nutshell.

Suffice it to say … reality can be a real bastard. Good leaders manage the bastard by managing the pacing of how we deal with all the bastard’s stuff.

 

 

Here is a truth.

 

The truth is that every good self-aware business leader has a panel in their head with a play, pause, rewind and fast forward button.  pause tattoo wrist

 

They have the ability to see things in real time … what has occurred up to that point and, in some way, can envision the ripples of what happens from there. Within that ability they decide to fast forward, or pause, or continue playing at the same speed … or even decide to rewind a little. They see reality and decide how to best take advantage of it.

 

Some leaders have one speed. There are some who we call ‘the bull in china shop’ asshats who only know forward at some fast speed bludgeoning and blustering their way forward. Some are like golf carts steadily chugging along at steady long play.

Good organizations have a variety of different types of employees but there is no good functional organization without leaders, or a great leader, with a ‘play/pause’ panel.

 

 

Here is another truth.

 

The other way a good leader uses their ‘play/pause’ panel is how they think about possibilities.

 

But we tend to make reality an even worse bastard. One thing we do that make reality worse is to convince ourselves that ‘the possibilities are infinite in any given moment.’

 

As I have stated before this is a false premise and a dangerously overwhelming premise.

 

‘Infinite’ sounds good conceptually, as does possibilities, but when it comes to real pragmatic decision-making the entire idea tends to overwhelm & freeze rather than enhance efficient & effective decision-making.

 

pause in lifeThe reality is that within any given moment possibilities are finite.

And the good leaders & managers recognize that. The great leaders and managers not only see finite possibilities but they see each possibility as a window … some wide open, some slightly cracked and some closed. And in any given moment they have the ability to consistently scan the finite possibilities with a finger poised over their play/pause/rewind/fast forward buttons.

 

That consistency is at the foundation of any good leader’s value.

 

Shit.

 

Consistency, in general, may have the highest value it has ever had in the history of Mankind.

 

Why?

 

Well.

 

Today’s world is structurally hostile to nuance. Subtlety not only doesn’t sell … it invokes ‘space’ in which others are more than willing to place something. I mention this because a play/pause panel is all about nuance within the complexity of reality.

 

It is easy to go one speed <or just stop when you get tired>. It takes touch and nuance to pause at the right time, rewind accordingly, fast forward through some difficulties or to take advantage of windows of opportunity or … well … just keep playing <which is sometime tougher than what you would think>.

 

This actually means great consistency is not about maintaining one speed but rather maintaining a consistent sense for how to adjust pacing accordingly.pause play rest no quit business lead pacing

 

This consistency is … well … complex. Business systems, more often than not, are a bit more complicated in their underlying dynamics than simplistic theory or simplistic diagrams attempting to create structure to an organization and its dynamics with the market & consumers/buyers/employees.

 

I would suggest that you cannot draw a picture for what is <because it is obsolete as soon as it is drawn> and you cannot draw a picture for what will be <because predicting multi-dimensional dynamics is outside the purview of reality>.

 

All that said.

 

That is why you cannot pay enough money to a business person who has the ability to know when to slow down to enable effective speeding up … or to pause to accept some responsibility <or explain> … or to fast forward at the right time.

 

That is why you cannot pay enough money to a business person who has the ability to stand still without really standing still. What I mean by that is the leader with a play/pause panel never really stands till <even though they may be pausing> because even a pause contains some activity and self-awareness to do something within that space.

 

 

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“She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still.”

 

 

e.e.cummings

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chow puppy waiting panting pause fast forward pace

I talk about this entire topic often.

 

And it is a difficult thing to explain.

 

In our business world today we like to have simple formulas and handbook guides.

 

Pacing is more ‘feel’ and awareness and … well … yeah … some humility.

 

I say humility because no matter how good a leader you are and no matter how good your pacing is there will always be some issues <mostly because you get some things wrong>. Part of the ‘wrong’ portion is you inevitably leave some people behind and some ‘minds’ get a little scattered. And you have to get them back on track and aligned and sometimes you have to step up and show a little humanness and everyone resets when you do that, give you another chance and get a little re energized to pick up their bags and hit the road with you again.

 

Look.

 

Real play/pause management is midstream management and not in some grand 5 year, or annual, plan. Midstream where you have some critical learnings and maybe even some momentum or real shit hits the fan.

And you purposefully do not have everyone stop … just maybe pause … assess … kind of like having a fighter squadron get fuel in flight … and then fast forward on the mission.

 

pause play pacing signs instinct business leadI will say one thing about the proper use of pacing. Good pacing business management creates exponential dramatic speed increases … even if you pause, rewind or maintain the current play.

 

I feel confident saying that reality, occurring on its own, shows that these dramatic shifts don’t really happen as part of a business status quo. Dramatic business shifts are situational, contextual and often simply do not happen because a business doesn’t have a business person who sees it, senses it or can steer it … they don’t have a business person with a good play/paus panel.

 

It is a proven fact <I think> that pacing is one of the most effective tools an organization can wield to effectively run a successful business. I would also suggest that more often than not this pacing is not driven by the market, Reality, but rather driven by one person <or several> who have the ability to sense a contextual shift in the dynamics within a situation. A person who doesn’t have a picture drawn to adapt against but can draw a picture of what they see & sense from which others can leverage from to generate speed.

 

Not everyone can do this.

 

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John Coltrane: “I don’t know what it is. It seems like when I get going, I just don’t know how to stop.”

 

Miles Davis: Why don’t you try taking the horn out of your mouth?”

 

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pause play stop buttons

 

 

What I do know is that a leader who has only one speed and who claims ‘good business instincts’ when it is really only one speed is not a great leader, nor a good leader, but rather a one-trick pony <one speed> leader and they have a habit of making bad choices.

Suffice it to say … a one trick pony shouldn’t be a leader … it should be an employee.

 

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Written by Bruce