I Can Do That … as Long as I Keep Rhythm

I am penning my Op Ed this month in a pool of irony. The R we are writing about this month is Rhythm. Though I can clearly identify what the concept means to me and even how I have come to depend upon its calming influence over the years, I am writing this at a time when rhythm is likely not at all evident to my circle of co-workers, friends and family. However, as John Strong states in his guest article, the term can be associated with something more innate and not necessarily evident to the casual observer (or an editor waiting for my tardy contribution). The duck analogy that circulated several years ago applies: Paddling like hell under the surface, while appearing calm above the surface.

Some of you may have noticed the new position posted on my LinkedIn page earlier this week. Every so often I like to take on a project myself to be sure that I remain acutely aware, in touch and focused on the issues facing our customers. So, I am now functioning as the CEO of Optimé, Managing Director of the Synergy Purchasing Coalition (a brand new contracting collaborative that we’ve built to serve three IDNs), an AP staff member at Boston Children’s Hospital, Executive Director for the International Board for the Advancement of Medicine, board member of the IDN Summit and educational board volunteer for the Michigan AHRMM chapter.

Remember the FedEx commercial that ran a few years back where a fellow was at a desk answering serial phone calls, always replying, “I can do that,” “I can do that?” Finally, after the fourth or fifth call, he paused, and said, “How am I going to do that?” Well, I’m happy to say that I’m not that guy!

There is a calming effect that rhythm has on one’s ability to cope, convey confidence and deliver. I am extremely fortunate to have had experiences in my life and career that enable me to become a duck when the going gets hectic. It is hard to explain, but there is a rhythm to what we do and, once identified, that rhythm can serve to provide the necessary order and flow to keep you from becoming overwhelmed. I think it has to do with process and rigor. Everything is a process, a series of steps and activities, which, I’ve learned, if performed with rigor, take less time than if performed in a reactive/haphazard way.

Ironically (or maybe not) we have an app for that: SmartWORKFLOW. It was developed to help organizations apply a prescribed institutional rigor to project, process, document and contract management. It’s amazing to me how calming the application of a rhythmic and orderly technology can be on the chaotic demands of day-to-day operations.

One of the hardest truisms for me to accept is the notion that you should “begin with the end in mind.” Would Christopher Columbus have ever hopped on the Santa Maria if he believed that the end of the journey was falling off the edge of the Earth? No. He couldn’t know what the end was, but he was confident that he had the skill and rigor to navigate whatever lay westward. In my opinion, the confidence of his conviction was born of his experiences and the resulting rhythm that he held within.

Again, this concept is very hard to explain, but I’ll offer one last piece of third-party evidence to reinforce my premise. I find, in hectic times like these, that I turn to listening to music to center me (normally I listen to podcasts or audio books designed to inform and educate). I expect that very few have heard of an artist by the name of Jane Kelly Williams. I honestly cannot remember where I came across her CD, but it includes a song entitled, “Show Me How to Catch a Fish.” Give it a listen, and really listen. Personally, I love the “dogs on a leash” stanza. Fred, you know that Buddy is patiently waiting, with his leash in his mouth, for you to flow with him again.


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