Since high school, one of my favorite pieces of musical wisdom has been this: "Focus less on what notes you are playing, and focus more on when you are playing them."

This idea of "when" is also a great thing to think about at work.

In music, a focus on "when" keeps you in sync with other people. Nothing is more frustrating in music than a person who keeps their own time. Isn't that true in business also? Collaboration isn't just about what you do with other people, it's about when you do it.

And "when" is also a key to musical expressiveness. A short string of notes can sound boring when played with one rhythm, but take on beauty when played with another. Start at C on a piano and play down the white keys in even time until you reach the next C. Now do the same thing to the rhythm of "Joy to the World." You have created something totally different. Doesn't the same thing happen in business communications? Isn't the timing of words—sometimes measured in seconds, sometimes measured in months—a major reason those words are either heard or ignored?

Think "when."

Steve Yastrow posted this on March 30, 2006, in General.
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