I was listening to a talk the other day on the topic of ‘staying power’. We will celebrate when you starting something but it’s not long before excitement fades and we move on to the next news and stop caring about the progress. Or the flip side, that we celebrate the end of something. Rarely, if ever do we celebrate the middle- your staying power. Think about the last time someone you know started a new job or a business. You were so excited, lauded their bravery or innovation, promised you would swing some business their way, all hands in the air because you did care. But then what happened to that business? Have you checked on how well the business is working, has it grown, is it struggling? Or that friend who landed their dream job; are they happy, getting promoted, making a change, are they fulfilled? I celebrate every time I start a diet (about three times a year at least) but there is no applause when I stick to it. And isn’t that more important than starting it?
If it is closing doors on a dead thing, well then, the sorrows that came with it are now gone and you can start something new with a positive mindset.
Starting something is never a bad thing, the possibilities are endless. That business will change the industry. That new job will be a huge step in your career. That project will push boundaries. I will fit into that dress again. The end is even better, all the uncertainties from the beginning have proven true and/or been overcome. If the results are positive it’s an even better satisfaction that you won. If it is closing doors on a dead thing, well then, the sorrows that came with it are now gone and you can start something new with a positive mindset. Or eat fries without guilt again. The middle does not get the credit it deserves when compared to starting something and at least at the end, you will feel a sense of accomplishment.
Perhaps why we celebrate the start and the end is because too many of us get stuck in the middle without anything to show for it. Yet a good journey through the middle is the ticket to a successful and happy end. The middle is where you fail and pick yourself up again. It is where you make choices and see the consequences, learning what is best. It is where you lose yourself and find a better version of yourself.
There was nothing to keep her blood pumping every so often and she was worried that the mundane would make her lose her mind!
A good friend of mine recently left her job for a more challenging role. She had done 7 years and moved into a bigger firm still in the same industry. After a year she was bored and she started looking for something more. The danger she felt she was facing was that the new place had such efficient systems that anyone who came in was basically just plugging in and going along with the flow. There was nothing to keep her blood pumping every so often and she was worried that the mundane would make her lose her mind! As I was plotting this post she came to mind and I thought bingo! That is why we don’t celebrate the middle. Most of us do not want a challenge in our daily lives. You want to get that dream job, that dream salary, plug and play your day and go home at the end of the day.
We tend to not make a difference when we are in the middle. How would we? It is so much less stressful to go with the flow and do the bare minimum. As long as things are moving and you are getting yours at the end of it, you don’t see the need to do anything beyond yourself. If you do more, you get more responsibility and who wants that. I’ll do three deals and not five just to hit the target to make sure my salary comes in. I will do exactly what this client asks for and not more because if I do more then I will get more work without extra pay. Making a difference in the middle means more responsibility and sacrifices. We forget that it also means less satisfaction.
The danger of being a non-drifter is that you are in the minority and so there it is a constant fight to resist drifting. Without a challenge, there is nothing to accomplish and nothing to celebrate.
I have mentioned the book Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill. He mentions that there are two kinds of people: drifters and non-drifters, no in-between. Most people are drifters, literally choosing the path of least resistance. We are all innate drifters. Non-drifters are those not content with the mundane. The danger of being a drifter is that you will live a very unfulfilled life. Without a challenge, there is nothing to accomplish and nothing to celebrate. The danger of being a non-drifter is that you are in the minority and so there it is a constant fight to resist drifting. Drifting is comfortable, just get your foot in the right door, then camp in the room for as long as you can hold out. Non-drifting is exhausting, you will rearrange the room and you are not afraid to build an annexe if the space is not enough for you.
Above all, go to sleep every night with a head rush from living every day as an adventure.
Comfort is like the red apple whether you are looking at it as Eve or Snow White. It is a constant temptation but you must resist that little bite. Write that paper with all your heart, don’t stop where it is comfortable. Fix that project regardless of the challenges and the distractions that are discouraging you. Ask for help with that assignment and grow your knowledge. Volunteer for that initiative your firm is setting up. Above all, go to sleep every night with a head rush from living every day as an adventure.