Select Page

engaging Rhythm…

by | Feb 8, 2021 | Bo Diddley, engage, Rhythm (Management Hygiene)

Balance is hard to achieve in any endeavor until you notice you are getting slightly off-center.  When I conceived of this blog, it was to be a little music, a little leadership, and a story to make it memorable.  These last few weeks there were less practical leadership insights other than “be like me”, which I find… not that helpful.  Engaging with leaders (and myself) to establish a good Rhythm of what I call “Management Hygiene”, add in that it is Black History Month, I wanted to dig into an African American artist, and I needed to make these shorter… there is really only one person to do that this week… 

…. he was born Ellas Bates in Mississippi, but was raised by his mother’s cousin, and eventually took her last name McDaniel. They moved to the South Side of Chicago like many of that generation to find employment off of the share-cropper farms that were rigged against them in the south.  He was active in the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and was so proficient on the Violin he was invited to join the Orchestra at only 18.  But the street music and Rhythms of Chicago featuring the electric guitar called out to him, and he quickly picked it up. 

At the bank this weekend, a young man asked about my work, and figuring out what it was, he asked “What leadership book do you recommend most often?”  That was an easy answer – Change your Questions, Change your Life.  A very easy read, it is deceptively simple, and if you engage with the practice, it will slowly permeate the Rhythm of all you do.  Ironically, the quick way to know if you are doing it is watch your punctuation – periods end conversations and discussions, and question marks, keep the beat moving… 

Ellas quickly mastered the music of Louis Jordan, John Lee Hooker, and the other “new” artist from Mississippi who also had a funny name.  McKinley Morganfield is credited with really starting the electric blues street music when he plugged in an amp to be louder than traffic.  You know him as Muddy Waters, and Ellas not only loved that playing, he knew he would need a new approach to make his music stand out.  He picked up a funny, 5 beat hambone Rhythm – that, once he played it, changed music forever.  Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Animals, and all Hip Hop is based on this simple pattern, that once you hear it, you know it is him…

As you are engaging this week, start to pay attention to punctuation.  Are you using more closed-ended statements… declarative statements that sound more like orders?  If your building is on fire, that might be helpful, but most of the time, in working with people you hope are smarter than you, the approach of asking questions will keep the Rhythm of collaboration and conversation going.  It would also be helpful to notice how much you are “playing”… notice that much of music is what is “not” played, leaving room for the other artists around them. I shoot for a ratio of no more than 3 sentences before a question, and an even better ratio is ensuring your conversations are 90%…. the other person or team members talking… 

Ellas signed to Chess like Muddy, and in his first recording, they asked for his “name”.  Following McKinley’s lead, he dug back to a name that had been coined in his youth.  The origin, like much of that era, is “muddy”, but one version of his first name is an “amplifier” and his last name is shortened from a phrase for absolutely nothing… usually with the word “squat”.  And using it backwards, it is a single string instrument imported from Africa.  Either way, if you don’t smile listening to this track that announced him to the world… well, punctuation won’t save you.  Rhythm that engages… and the man that defined it… Bo Diddley. 

Share This