Rhythm Of Things

“Speed in the martial arts is not the True Way.” – Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

Too often in our modern world, we rush from one activity to the next. But Musahsi, like many warriors, understood that there was a rhythm of things. He understood that as the seasons change so should we. But the seasons rarely can be rushed nor can they be delayed. We must do a better job of moving with purpose.

No matter what your construction schedule says on paper, there is a rhythm of things on a development site. City approvals, architect selection, design, contractor bidding, and ultimately construction all have their own rhythm.

“Of course, being slow is also wrong. Here, too, a skillful person may appear slow, but he is never off the beat. No matter what a well-trained person does, he never appears hurried.” Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

Scheduling anything can be tough. We want to be aggressive, but we certainly need to be realistic. You cannot frame any building without the foundation complete. But you cannot start any foundation work without a permit from the City. The exterior must be closed up before you start the finishes.

Construction, development, and even life can feel chaotic. There is a distinct rhythm in the military to peacetime and wartime operations. In peace, we must prepare for war. In war, we must respect the rhythm of operations.

During the Peloponnesian War, the Greek City-States of Sparta and Athens fought each other for almost 27 years. Some argue it destroyed all of Greece for centures. In war, life can be chaotic, both on the front lines, at HQ, and for the families at home.

“In times of peace and prosperity cities and individuals alike follow higher standards, because they are not forced into a situation where they have to do what they do not want to do. But war is a stern teacher; in depriving them of the power of easily satisfying their daily wants, it brings most people’s minds down to the level of their actual circumstances.” Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

Today, we create our own chaos through our inability to schedule things. Sometimes we lack the purpose and the priority to focus on the needs instead of our wants. Sometimes we lack the stress to really focus our efforts. More often than not, contractors and developers are constantly updating the schedule. But to what end? Is it based in reality? Or are they so engulfed in the chaos that they are constantly changing the milestone dates rushing from one activity to the next?

“a city is better off with bad laws, so long as they remain fixed, than with good laws that are constantly being altered, that lack of learning combined with sound common sense is more helpful than the kind of cleverness that gets out of hand, and that as a general rule states are better governed by the man in the street than by intellectuals.” Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

Too many people have lost their instincts. Too many people have lost their rhythm of things. Too many people have lost their common sense. Too many people are trying to be clever. Humans did it over 2,000 years ago and we continue to do it today.

You would think with the abundance of technologies and the recent push for AI that scheduling anything in construction and development is easier. But the problem is we avoid developing our soft skills. We overemphasize technology at the expenses of our instincts. We overemphasize our ability to believe our own truth instead of connecting it with the reality of what is happening on the frontlines.

“Most people, in fact, will not take trouble in finding out the truth, but are much more inclined to accept the first story they hear.” Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

When you are scheduling anything, consider your experience. Consider the reality on the ground. Consider the effects of the seasons. Consider what is happening on the front lines.

Most importantly, consider the rhythm of things.

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