- Standard of Business
- Producing Real Value
- The Harming of Others
- Directed Passion and Hard Work
- The Handshake
- Misdirection and Deception
- Partnerships of Trust
- Amorality of Money
- Money: A Means, Not an End
- The Great Liege Lord: Greed
- Human Relationships, Not Numbers
- Losing with Honor
- The Trap of Zero-Sum Thinking
- Align or Die!
- Creating Shared Stakeholder Value
- Capitalism: The Powers of Good and Evil
- Guarding Growth
One of the ways I funded myself through my university education was being a dance instructor specifically teaching the American Social and Country Western styles. Having to maintain control over classes sometimes as large as 60 people (often more interested in flirting than listening to me) in a large, open space taught me a number of great lessons about leadership and group dynamics.
However, today I want to discuss a fundamental principle of dancing. It’s called the Five Blocks.
The Five Blocks
The body is made up of five different blocks of weight. Starting from the top, they are the head, torso, hips, legs and feet. We visualize them being stacked one on top of another, as we see here on the left. Stacked correctly, the body is in perfect balance, no block unnecessarily pulling or pushing on another block. We trained to this, which is one of the reasons why dancers have that particular way of holding themselves and walking.
Everything is in balance.
In dance there are a so many things that must be constantly considered, it is impossible to constantly be checking for every single one. The mind has too much to do (especially on a crowded dance floor where all the technique needs to happen while still avoiding everyone else).
For this we use muscle memory. By training the body over and over and over again, the proper ways of moving and holding oneself becomes ingrained in the muscles. In fact, it starts to feel wrong to move “incorrectly” as it starts to feel foreign.
The Five Blocks of weight are no different. However, they tend to be difficult for many new students of dance. For many, they’ve spent their entire lives reinforcing bad habits of posture and movement. Breaking that can be difficult, especially when in their minds it has worked fine so far.
It’s also difficult from a teaching standpoint because the moves they are learning are simple. Even without the proper balance, students can make it through the moves, albeit without grace or poise. Students often compensate by trying to use strength which compounds the problem, and will certainly cause problems later.
And, there’s the crux of the matter.
The reason I as an instructor had to start with the Five Blocks on basically Day #1 is that it takes some time (i.e., years) for the body to learn and develop this new way of moving. And, while the initial dance moves didn’t “require” this level of balance, future ones would.
Failing to grasp this concept and constantly work on it would compound upon itself and become a real problem in the future. This is especially true because even though I’ve shown the blocks in a nice, neat stack, they aren’t always lined up that way. But, they must always be kept in balance one with another, and it’s that graceful movement from different block arrangements that makes the beautiful movements of a truly great dancer.
Politics and Political Games
As I talk and work with different organizations, it constantly surprises me how many (especially in small business) proudly proclaim, “We don’t have any politics here.”
Okay, let’s get one thing straight: That’s a lie.
Every organization/company/relationship/etc. that has a size greater than one has politics.
There’s no way around it. Politic exists as a normal part of human interaction, and in and of themselves are not a problem. The problems occur with what we call political games, those disruptive and destructive actions that separate, segregate and tear apart organizations.
When they say they don’t have any politics, what I tend to think is they don’t believe they have any political games going on in their organization. That may (or may not) be true. But, it is very dangerous to not make the distinction, as I’ve seen ignoring it create a fertile growing ground for future political games.
In order for a company or organization to be successful, it must all be in alignment. This is a huge topic that I plan on discussing in more detail in future blog posts. However, for the time being, let it suffice to say political games are a telltale sign a company is out of alignment.
Oddly enough, I’ve seen some organizations not only allow this, but also actively encourage it, believing the created tension and competition will benefit the organization overall (as long as they can control the in-fighting).
However, it’s the same as the Five Blocks just discussed. While it’s possible to do many dance steps with the blocks of weight out of balance, it becomes harder and harder as time progresses and the moves become more difficult. Eventually, it becomes impossible to execute because without the proper balance, the moves just can’t be done.
It’s no different in business. Allow or encourage a unaligned culture, and eventually it will break down under its own weight.
You must align your organization if you want to have any hope of long-term, sustainable growth and success.
Going back to dance for just a minute, which do you suppose is the most important of the Five Blocks?
As it so happens, it isn’t the feet or the torso, but the head.
Of the Five Blocks, the head is the densest, and it’s also place precipitously on the top of the stack. It’s also the one that starts causes the most problems the earliest in a dancer’s career.
Spins are one of the times where, without exception, the blocks of weight must be in balance. Think of a figure skater doing that trademark tight spin. Get out of alignment, and everything becomes wobbly and falls over. And, it’s the head that’s the easiest to mess up. After all, it’s heavy, on the top, and only attached at one point.
For us in the business world, we should take careful note alignment starts from the top. Now, I’m not talking about militaristic command-and-control (which works great in the military), but leadership through passion, vision, competence and integrity.
Let’s go forth, and lead our companies and organization to greatness through aligning everyone to a common goal, a common cause.
This article is licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0.