Yesterday I was watering the garden around our house. It has taken 20 years, as well as the intervention of a gardener who knew what they are doing, but finally, FINALLY, our garden seems to be alive with gowth and color year round. It blows my mind that just as the pretty purple blooms are disappearing, the orange poppies are JUST NOW exploding. And after them, on cue will come the daphne plant.
This is because that helpful gardener understood sequencing. It’s all about the rhythm !
When I was starting my career in theater, I developed a good reputation as a lighting programmer. I knew just what to do to layer fades, make sets of lights smoothly cross each other, hitting right on the music while also keeping attention on the lead. I understood the mechanics of offsets, and timing. It was all about the rhythm !
As I moved up into design, and then into creative direction, this understanding of rhythm became the fundamental driver. In Robert Mckee’s seminal work on script writing, Story, the lesson that turned on the light for me was that the story happens in the gaps. Stories set up contexts… beat, beat, beat. Then comes the question. This is “the drop”, the musical rest, where the tension lives… WIll it work out ? Will our hero get by this challenge ? What’s going to happen ? THIS is the gap, and it’s where the critical moment happens, giving us all the feels.
This is rhythm too. The rhythm of a compelling narrative.
Architects think deeply about spatial tempos. An approach, an entrance, a passage, a room. Each with a purpose, each feeding the next, each a waypoint on a journey that will create curiosity, knowledge, or feeling.
This too is rhythm.
So dig in today – Whatever you are working on, be it story, strategy, or process, look for the rhythm. Think about the tempo, the build, the gap, and the delivery. All of these facets bring underlying power to any process.
It’s all about the rhythm !