Getting it Together

Like cogs meshing in a gear train, you synchronize your life with your perception of reality. You know when you are in sync. It feels like you are dancing, in the groove, in the zone . . . everything is in harmony. You also know when you are out of sync. It feels like you are out of place, working hard but getting nowhere. Have you ever listened to the inaugural performance of a 4th grade orchestra? The timing is a little off.

Last week, I was behind another car waiting in the left turn lane. As I sat there listening to the sound of my blinker clicking rhythmically, I looked at the other car’s turn signal flashing in front of me. I noticed that our blinkers seemed to phase in and out of sync with each other. There was a moment when my blinker flashed at exactly the same time as the car in front of me. The synchronized pattern quickly fell into discord but as I waited for the light to change, they blinked together once again in perfect harmony.

Just like car blinkers, the oscillations of non-synchronized cycles phase into and out of harmony over time. The pattern is smooth one moment then chaotic the next . . . then smooth again . . . then chaotic. Harmony naturally moves toward discord and discord naturally moves toward harmony. Movement from one stable state to another. Change is the only constant. Synchronization is transient. Harmony is a moving target.

I realize that my life has been a reflection of cycles that fall into and out of phase with other systems operating around me. At times, all is right with the world. Everything is additive. Work, relationships, family, health . . . all working together. At other times, I can’t seem to find my rhythm. I’m off balance and out of sorts. It feels like I’m pushing a swing at the wrong time. My efforts dampen the flow of energy. I can’t gain traction.

Every system, like my turn signal, has a natural rhythm . . . a pattern, a routine. Most patterns aren’t as obvious as a car’s turn signal, but if you know what to look at, you will recognize repeating patterns in your life. Circadian rhythms drive our human day/night cycles and hormonal rhythms drive our hunger/metabolism cycles. The stock market cycles between bear and bull markets. We buy new toothpaste every three months and new socks every three years. We attend a staff meeting every Tuesday morning at 10:00 am. Sun spot activity follows an 11 year cycle. The Earth’s magnetic field regularly flips and experiences repeating glacial cycles. North America experiences winter and summer every year. Electrons orbit atomic nuclei in repeating cycles giving each element a signature vibrational frequency. Everything around us is in motion.

Most of us live our lives without recognizing how the cyclical patterns around us change from phase to phase. We fail to recognize opportunities or problems until it’s too late. Who could have predicted the rapid decline of General Motors or the collapse of the housing market? How about the meteoric rise of Apple Computer? Early warning signs were evident. Prior to filing bankruptcy, General Motors had been continually losing market share, wasted billions of dollars on an investment in Fiat and the spin-off of Delphi, and lending mortgage money to people who couldn’t pay it back. The housing market was moved to the brink of destruction by the rapid popularity of reverse mortgages, self qualified income, subprime loans, mortgage wholesaling, and variable rate mortgages. Apple Computer’s introduction of the iPod and iTunes in in 2001 revolutionized the music industry. Soon followed by the iPhone (changed the cell phone industry), the iPad (changed the publishing industry), and iCloud (changed the online storage industry).  How well did you recognize the cyclic patterns that led to the Great Recession? Did you get it together in time?

We all naturally synchronize with our surroundings. School children sync with the right group by acting, dressing, and talking a certain way. Adults sync with society spending billions of dollars to improve their looks, follow fashion trends and pursue the American dream. We synchronize our time in order to attend meetings and social functions. We synchronize our bill paying schedule with the arrival of our paycheck. We synchronize our lifestyle expectations with our spouses’. We synchronize our leisure time with the activities of our children. We synchronize the speed of our car with other cars around us on the highway. Most of us do it without being aware that we are actually synchronizing our lives to our perception of the environment.

When we are in sync, we can feel it. When we are out of sync, we can feel that too. The important thing to recognize is that we are trying to synchronize with an ever changing environment. The turn signals of life are not constant, they fluctuate over time. Trends change, sometimes rapidly. Patterns evolve, sometimes suddenly. In order to stay synchronized with a moving target, you must be willing to move as well. Sometimes you must hang on and other times you must let go. Staying at the same job for years may be wise, unless your company experiences fluctuations in the market. Learning other aspects of your job and taking on additional responsibilities will keep you afloat if the company has to evolve. People with a “just doin’ my job” attitude don’t adapt to change as well as those who’s attitude is like the Caterpillar operator who once told me, “sure I can drive it, just show me how to start it”. Some days you are asked to drive a dump truck and other days you get to drive a sports car. If you resist change and can’t synchronize with your environment, you will experience turbulence . . . you grind your gears.

Harmony takes movement. Stay light on your feet. Take on more responsibility. Be adaptable. When an opportunity presents itself, say YES! Learn to change, to evolve, to move out of your comfort zone. Take a chance. Take a risk. Be bold. Step up. Practice change every day. Put your wallet in your other hip pocket. Brush your teeth with your other hand. Take a different route to work. Try a different approach with your spouse. Break the bonds of habitual behavior and learn to synchronize your life.





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