Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Rhythm is Important in Everything


One of my favorite business books of all time is Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. It is packed full of practical tools for strategic planning for building and running a growth business.  One of the keys to success Verne discusses is the importance of rhythm to your teams and your company. Daily huddles, weekly meetings, quarterly retreats, etc… establishing this rhythm is key to moving forward and overcoming obstacles quickly to keep the company moving.

This rhythmic ‘pulsing’ of daily and weekly meetings constitutes the real heartbeat of a growing company.

It occurs to me that this principal also applies to our personal life and how we handle the interaction of our businesses with our families.

A couple of months ago, I realized that my personal “to do” list had become ineffective for me. There were too many varying things that needed attention. Different size projects in different areas of life.  So I created for myself a one-page “Weekly Goals and Actions” sheet. It has a box for each company, project, or major area of life. Each Monday morning at 5am, I am up and spend about an hour filling this out for the sheet. I want to make sure that each item that goes on the sheet is moving one of the boxes towards their established long term goals. This helps me avoid “busy work” tasks, and also ensures that while juggling so many projects, nothing stands still for a given week, or if it does, it is intentional.  So far this sheet has worked well.  I’ll write more about its contents in future posts, but for this post, I want to focus on one box I have over on the right side that says this:

Michael, Lunch at School ______

Max, Drop off ____

I make sure that each week I schedule a lunch with my kindergartener, Michael, and enjoy a drop off with my 4-year old, Max. When I put this on the sheet at first, it felt like bonus points. I just thought “I’m going to put everything in my perfect week on here, and hopefully I get to check them off.”

If you have kids over the age of 6, then you know about the funny transformation that happens in your house when they learn to read. All of a sudden they start looking over your shoulder reading e-mails; you can’t spell things out in front of them without being discovered; and you can’t ever write their name on paper and not have them ask you “Why is my name on that paper?”

So you can see where this is going: Michael saw that I have a sheet of paper always in front of me and right there it says “Michael Lunch…” So he started keeping up with it. I told him the purpose of this, and he was ecstatic.  Until now, my lunch visits at school were erratic and maybe monthly. Now he thinks it is the best thing in the world that every week there is a day where “one of Daddy’s lunch meetings this week is with me,” as he says.  It really hit home for me when I saw that on his personal calendar, he had scheduled me in for lunch (see photo). This is a heart warmer!! Obviously, I don’t need to tell you that it has been a successful initiative for me and our family.

I believe there are other important rhythmic initiatives everyone should aim to include in their life. Here are a few.

  1.  Every 6-months, my wife and I have a goal to take a vacation without kids, without family, without friends. Just time for us. Hopefully a minimum of 3-4 days, because that’s how long it takes us to stop talking about the business of “Family Life, Inc.”
  2. Once a year, I try to take each kid on an overnight trip just with Daddy. Just for them. It’s so important to have this one-on-one time with them to really get to know them as individuals. I love our trips and will write more about them in the future.
  3. We try to make it to church as many Sundays as we can. This is a routine that is important to us for so many reasons beyond the spiritual health.

Of course, none of the ideas are original to me. They are all from great Dad’s and entrepreneurs around me, and I am ever grateful for them, as is my family.

What else do you do to establish rhythm in your personal life?



Category: General, Ideas
  • Nat Harwell says:

    as our kids were growing up, I undertook the task of preparing breakfast every day to relieve the burden on my wife. my goal was to have a different entree for a hot breakfast Mon-Thurs, with Fri being “cereal day.” as the prep drew near completion, I’d put some music on the stereo (different genre Mon-Fri) to alert the still-sleeping kids that their day was about to begin. as I served the meal I’d march down the hall loudly calling out “rise and shine” or something to that effect. the net effect was, as you’ve so eloquently described, to establish a rhythm to the seemingly innocuous act of waking up and starting the day. the kids learned about music, about the value of a good breakfast to start their day, and – not inconsequentially – that their daddy loved them enough to take on at least ONE major chore around the house to help make their lives a little bit better.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm
  • Johnson Cook says:

    That’s a great point Nat… The rhythm in things like this is equally important for the giver as it is to the recipients. I love making breakfast and taking Michael to school every day. Very rewarding routine! What makes it even better is when I have to get him out the door early because I have a breakfast meeting, it’s an exciting treat for him to ride the bus. Who knew!? :)

    April 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm
  • Noel Coleman says:

    Dinnertime and bed time. There’s something special about bed time, though. In those quiet moments of just the two of you in the dark talking, praying or just tickle fighting. Some of my most important memories come from those bed time routines. But I’m sure dinner time will get better once my kids are over the age of 3…

    August 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm

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