I Hope You Dance
As I was driving yesterday I had a chance to listen again to one of my favorite tunes I Hope You Dance by country star Leanne Womack. The setting of the song is a mother singing to her very young children about the things they will face and the choices they will encounter and her wish that "if you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance." In the song she explores things like falling in love, staying true to your principles, and recognizing your relative place in the universe.
I think this is some of what people like Daniel Pink are referring to when they talk about flow, or when Seth Godin talks about each of pursuing our art. Flow as I have discussed previously is that spectacular place where our destination is clear, the balance between effort and result is in harmony and we have the autonomy to pursue of our own volition. I wonder if it was also this goal that the Founding Fathers meant when they talked about "the pursuit of happiness" and the concept of personal competency; that balance of the right and responsibility to be competent and self reliant.
As Ms. Rimes sings there is no guarantee built into this pursuit, it is the right and the decision to pursue the journey that is important.
I have to say when I read statistics that say that 55% of Americans are dissatisfied in their jobs, only 30% describe themselves as engaged, and we are spending $5 trillion on turnover and another $200 billion on "presenteeism" it doesn't sound like too many people are "dancing".
I wonder if creating engaged environments is a way to let people "dance"? I keep reading that clear expectations, respect, fairness and equity, and shared values are the keys to engagement and productivity. Is it just me or does this kind of sound like the "dancing" that both Leanne and the Founding Fathers had in mind?
What if those of us who build organizations or lead them built the opportunity to "dance" into our models? You know things like clear expectations, balanced feedback, autonomy, respect, and connection to something larger.
It seems to me that the Industrial Revolution, Frederick Taylor, and the Calvinist work ethic don't leave much room for "dancing". I think it is also okay for "dancing" to include work. Although I have seen dancers of all kinds demonstrate sprezzatura I recognize the practice and hard work that went into achieving that level of performance. It isn't for the faint hearted.
Maybe I have stretched my metaphors too broadly, but I have decided to heed Leanne's advice and look for my opportunities to "dance" and to encourage others to "dance" as well.
So I guess my wish for all of you is that "if you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance"........