This is the manuscript of the third episode of the podcast Success and Inner Growth, introducing the Rhythm of Success.
The Rhythm of Success combines the rhythm of the work week with the Cycle of Learning and Innovation. I introduce at the end of the episode a third variant of the Rhythm of Success, which allows for huge advances in thinking and innovation, but comes with a big caveat: It might be too much to bear for a human being.
Success comes in two main flavors:
- Success might be a life steadily providing for the needs of you and your loved ones, free of fear. The drumbeat of this success is the work week, with five or six days of work and one or two days of rest and reflection.
- For others success means also to improve life for many, to contribute something unique and lasting to the human heritage. I call the drumbeat of this success “cycle of learning.”
If you combine in your life the drums of the work week with the Cycle of Learning and Innovation, you start to swing in the Rhythm of Success.
Time – The Earth’s Master Rhythm
But first I want to dedicate some thoughts to the stream of time, which provides the background sound to the earth, almost like a Basso Continuo. This time stream is there for the whole earth, not just for humans. It helps us to organize our life and to keep both, the worlk week and the cycle of learning and innovation, going.
I am talking here about time in its fascinating complexity, about time in its full beauty and power. I talk about the rhythm of the movements of the earth, the moon and the sun relative to each other.
Natural time consists of three overlapping 4-beat rhythms:
- The day, defined by the movement of the earth around herself, or if you prefer to see it like that: the movement of the sun around the earth. One day consists of a sequence of four states: nighttime and daytime, connected by the transitions of morning and evening.
- The month defined by the movement of the moon. A lunar month goes also through a sequence of four states: new moon and full moon, connected by the transitions of growing and waning moon.
- The year, defined by the movement of the earth around the sun – or if you want, by an oscillation of the sun between the northern and the southern part of the earth. The solar year consists also of four phases: summer and winter, connected by the transitions of spring and autumn.
Natural Time and Linear Time
The lunar month does not consist of a whole number of days, and the solar year neither consists of a whole number of months nor a whole number of days.
The European calendars are cutting the bond between months and the moon. Instead they introduced artificial months, 28, 29, 30 or 31 days long. To keep the year roughly in sync with the sun, they introduced leap years.
You can continue to organize your life in seconds and their multiples. But I challenge you to allow yourself to appreciate for a moment the marvelous flow of time, as created by three very simple 4-beat rhythms of the movements of earth, moon and sun. They are the motor of evolution.
The natural time flow operates like a kaleidoscope. I lets every moment in our life occur against the background of a slightly different energy. This master rhythm of the earth acts as a natural catalyst for change. If we expel the rhythm of time from our lives, we invite stagnation and boredom, and with that we destroy of our energy.
Compared to the time flow created by days, months and years, the week is unique:
- A week consists of seven full days, neatly stitched together without any overlap.
- Days, months and years apply to the whole earth. Plants and animals, the oceans, the air, mountains, rivers, forests, meadows, fields, all of them dance to the tune of days, months and years. But no butterfly will ever care about Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. The butterfly will just dance in a soft flow of air between gently swinging grass and flowers, until the night or rain arrives. Counting the days and resting after 6 days applies only to humanity.
Now, for what is the Sunday good? Why shouldn’t we work that seventh day, but observe and reflect? This has to do with another concept, unique to humanity: work
The Work Week
We set for ourselves goals – or allow others to set goals for us – and then we focus our energy, attention and activity on actions to achieve those goals. We call this behavior “work”.
On Sunday, we should stop our activity and release our focus to allow a wider set of impressions and information into our mind and to reflect our behaviors, actions and goals.
Releasing the focus on Sundays and reflecting our life helps us to adjust and reaffirm our goals. As a result, we have on Monday again valid and fresh goals. And they are after reaffirmation more powerful than ever.
Working means to repeat a well-defined process again and again. Steady focus, skills honed by repetition result in high productivity and steady income.
The Generic Work Process
An example of a generic work process could look like this:
- First production step
- Check interim result
- Next production step
- Check interim result
- Next production step
- Check interim result
- Next production step
- Check final result
This process can be simple or complex. It can have of one or more steps. But after every interim step, there will be a check if it has been properly performed, and at the end of the process there will be some quality control. Often, some steps and checks in a production environment are automated.
This generic work process in a regular work week should support an ordinary life. If you want more, you need to start
Climbing the Stairway to Excellence
The Stairway to Excellence allows you to lead in your field. It allows you also to stay at the cutting edge of your profession. People become leaders by improving their current process, innovating it, adding something new and unprecedented. And the best thing: there is a proven process for creativity and innovation. It is called
The Process of Continuous Improvement
One example for the process of continuius improvement comes from copywriting in direct marketing. The current best performing sales letter is called “control”. Any new variation of this sales letter will be tested against the control, and if it performs better then it becomes the new control.
Another example comes from scientific research: Scientists start with a hypothesis, which explains most aspects of a certain phenomenon. Their next step is to modify that hypothesis in the hope to find an explanation for some up to now unexplained observations. And then they test the new hypothesis against the original one. If the new hypothesis provides a better explanation for the complete phenomenon, it will become the new standard hypothesis.
This process of modification and testing, trial and error, is the basic cycle of learning and innovation. Relentless learning and innovation generate a continuous stream of small improvements and open the way to excellence. Combining the disciplined work week, including at least one day of rest, with the cycle of innovation constitutes the rhythm of success.
Reaching for the Stars
From time to time occurs a huge leap of improvement, driven by a profound change of the way we understand and do things. Examples are
- the understanding that the earth has the shape of a ball, allowing for intercontinental sea ways.
- the introduction of the electric light bulb, adding a few extra hours of activity to each day
- telegraph and telephone for instance exchange of information over thousands of kilometres
- the internet, providing a tool for people in different locations to work closely together, in one and the same process.
- the current developments in the field of artificial intelligence have a similar potential. Artificial intelligence tools allow humanity to use a huge pile of information, which has gone up to now into the dust bin. Irrelevant information was disturbing noise and becomes now a gold mine.
Such leaps have the potential to disrupt and rearrange not only the way we do things, but also the way people interact. They revolutionize human societies.
The Rhythm of Success in Turbo Mode
Initiating innovation of epic dimensions involves more than a dream. You will never see your dream coming true without an extended dance to the rhythm of success, consisting of the work week augmented by the cycle of learning and innovation. But focused and organized work to improve things step by step is still not enough.
Some people have the gift or habit to oscillate between focusing the mind and relaxing the focus. This allows them to sense the energy of every moment and to acquire a huge amount of extra information.
This extra information is almost always irrelevant to their current activity, and a big part of it does not even fit into commonly used categories. But it can be stored in the mind. People do not necessarily process or evaluate it immediately. But it will be available and can be activated later. This can be after the end of a meeting, in the night while sleeping, after years or even never.
Geniuses and Fools
People collecting and storing this extra information develop at times their own, not commonly shared categories and ways of thinking. This makes them lonely, but sometimes it leads also to those epochal innovations.
Examples of such people might be Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Galileo Galilei and Thomas Edison probably fit also into this bracket.
People who see and sense more than others go often through a difficult life. Their extra ability to sense and absorb information has the potential to add a dissonance to the rhythm of success. But it allows to think the unthinkable and do the unimaginable, too.
This oscillating focus slows people down and distracts their attention. So they might do some funny little mistakes like spelling errors or little miscalculations – especially when tired – and such little errors can lead to grave consequences.
Sometimes well-meaning parents and teachers look for a therapy to heal children from the curse of a weak focus and unthinkable thoughts. If they succeed, the child in question may experience an easier and more successful life. But such “healed” children lose rich, colorful experiences and the chance to make an outstanding contribution to the world.
This was the third episode of the Podcast Success and Inner Growth. The fourth episode will be online around June 20, with a more mundane topic. The fourth episode will discuss, how we secure for us a fair share of the results obtained through our energy, skills and imagination.
And this is important. lf others take all the fruits of our hard work, like our boss or employer, we are not only missing joy, but we lose also the resources we need to develop ourselves and care for our family. And that would be a bad result. So, see you again around June 20 to discuss how we can secure the fruits of our work.
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