08/19/2016 11:03 am ET Updated Aug 20, 2017

In the Rhythm of Life, Timing is Everything

In planning our family vacation, my older daughter had her heart set on a particular schedule. Through a conversation with my wife and younger daughter, we felt the need to change the schedule a bit, but were concerned about how my older daughter would react. A little later when she came down for breakfast, I started to bring up the subject. My younger daughter immediately gave me a nudge and whispered, "Dad, not now." I quickly recognized her wisdom and led the conversation in a different direction. The timing just wasn't right. Later that afternoon when I suggested we bring up the topic, my younger daughter said, "Don't worry about it. I talked to her and she's fine with it." Timing is everything.

The stream of our lives is like a dance from morning to evening, month to month, and through the years. To be a good dancer, we must develop rhythm. Though there is some objective component to rhythm, it is mostly composed of feeling. We need to feel the beat of our lives.

The problem is that our emotions, impulsiveness, and impatience all too often overshadow the rhythm. It's as if we no longer feel the natural pulse of ourselves, our lives, or even the pulse of the situations we find ourselves in. Instead, we give way to our thoughts, wants, and needs in an attempt to force things in the direction we want them to go.

When my older daughter was about 5 years old, we took a vacation to Florida. She and I were standing in the gentle waves at the beach when I decided to give her a playful little lesson on getting in phase with the rhythm of life. When the first wave came, I pretended to fight it as it knocked me over and sent me for a little tumble. When I came up for a breath, my daughter was giggling as I said, "Out of phase." When the next wave came, I stretched out my arms and allowed it to gently float me along as I looked at my daughter and said, "In phase." She smiled and giggled again. After doing that with her a few times, I told her all of life is like that. We just need to learn to ride the waves wisely.

All too often, we focus too much on the task instead of the rhythm required to best accomplish the task. We do well to pay attention to the mood and temperament of the people we are dealing with, as well as the atmosphere in the room. For instance, trying to have a serious conversation during a festive moment may not work very well.

There's a difference between suppressing what we want to say and timing it to be most effective. Oftentimes, saying what needs to be said is only heard when the timing is right. Otherwise, it can elicit the opposite reaction to what we intended.

Everything in life has a rhythm. Everything cycles. The art of living has much to do with learning to ride the waves. During conflicts, patience may be required. In good times, we can ride the waves with delight. The more hectic life becomes, the more rhythmic our dance must be. In a busy business environment, we may be switching from moment to moment, from one sort of interaction to the next. That's a very sophisticated dance requiring a great deal of rhythm. Life is a dance. To master it, we must master the rhythm of our lives. Timing is everything.