Are You Making Music or Just Passing the Time?

Today marks the official one-year anniversary for The Pocket Phd. Woo hoo! I’m celebrating by taking a long weekend in the mountains of Asheville. I can’t wait to get on the road. But right now, I have a headache and I need to post this before I can relax.

My current situation and mood is such a microcosm of what it is to own a business. It’s a lot like walking a tightrope while listening to your favorite song (here’s mine). (Hey look, another metaphor for business—I probably should start a list.)

I guess that music is on my mind because it’s music festival season. Isn’t it amazing how the summer and spring seems to bring out the best in everyone all across the country? Whether it’s listening to live music overlooking a lake with a glass of wine, or enjoying a retreat celebration to recharge the batteries through culture, art, and music, everyone is just so happy.

Music is a wonderful way to do what we call “passing the time.”

Wait, what? Who in the business world has time to “pass the time?” Isn’t what we do while time is ticking the more important part? Isn’t time a measurement of moving ourselves in different ways? Moving our minds, moving our bodies, moving our mouths, moving our cell phones, moving our vehicles?

Well, the beauty of music is that it’s always present. It is precise. To play a beautiful piece of music, you have to be skilled, practiced, regimented, controlled and focused (kind of like building a business or walking a tightrope). It’s difficult. But when it’s ingrained, it becomes second nature, and it can be one of the most powerful experiences one can have.

Described this way, it isn’t passing time anymore: it is efficiency in participating in collective movement while simply being measured by time. When more than one person does this in conjunction with others, it becomes all the more beautiful. The precision of the musicians working together creates something pleasurable, and it’s inspiring.

Making music with your business

There’s a small music festival near Chapel Hill that goes on twice a year, and is a coming together of music lovers, artsy folks, freedom-seekers, and weekend hippies who own and operate consulting businesses the rest of the time, all getting away from the rat race for a few days to reconnect to the way they utilize their time.

Many of the festival-goers are musicians themselves, thus understanding the notion of precision in presence of whatever they are responsible for at any given time. This creates an atmosphere where everyone is there for the same reason, and it is, in this case, to ensure the goodness of everyone present. In this team of precision, everyone’s a babysitter, everyone keeps the grounds as clean as possible, everyone recycles, and everyone has a great time not worrying about what time it is.

The movement is more important than the time. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do other than be there and enjoy every moment of it. No one is worried about anything and everyone is helping to take care of everything.

Wait, so why don’t we engage in this mode all the time? Wouldn’t it be helpful in business?

Well, in come the issues—the stuff that gets in the way: power, money, the corporate hierarchy…stuff that makes us feel individually important. Not that having these things is bad! It often happens to hard workers! The hard part is when these things get in the way of the overall goal for the goodness in any project.

And, we do so many things in one time period that we have come to value time more than the stuff we do while time ticks. Productivity declines, morale declines, health declines, precision declines, quality declines, and so does the bottom line. But we still all have the same amount of time in a day. 24 hours. How is it that some people can be productive and others cannot, when we are all working with the same amount of time?

Hmm. Could it be focus maybe?

Imagine the precision and focus it would take to play one part of a musical arrangement and to do that every waking moment of every day. All focus and effort have to be right there on that musical arrangement and nothing else. For everyone in the band. More often than not, the more you do something, the better you become, and the more you can be relied upon to do it.

But how often do business team members actually show up to work the same way they would if they were playing an instrument on stage in a band? How often are they given the time and resources to really become precise at their function? How often are people just given many menial tasks and more hats to wear?

Unfortunately because of this, we just can’t assume that everyone is a master maestro all the time, and this is surely one of the reasons why many end up working with consultants or freelancers. They tend to be very precise at doing just a couple of things. They can play the perfect guitar riff in that classic rock song or they can be counted on to get it done by 6pm Sunday. And they love what they do.

It’s not easy to find the perfect mixture of personality for each project that we come across in the world of business, but band members are never impossible to find. In an ideal circumstance, efficiency of energy and focus are vital aspects to working on big projects. Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself, and you have to be able to trust the people with whom you are working…even if you do not know them!

Just like the music festival goers, everyone trusts the precision of the presence of everyone else, and everyone enjoys themselves as a result.

The population is there to aid in the creation of something beautiful, not just pass the time.

And that’s what I’m here for too.

If you need a little help in finding someone you trust to help you create something beautiful, give me a call and you might just find the bandmate you are seeking.

Photo credit: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo