There is a concept in physics which holds that you cannot ever really get from one end of a room to the other because each step is infinitely divisible. As close as you get to the far wall, you always have further to go.
A rather intriguing concept but the fact is – in the real as opposed to the theoretical world – you do wind up at the end of the room, banging your face against the wall.
So much for the theory.
Similarly, we often believe we are “in the middle” of something: a project, our life span, a product life cycle, an agreement between two parties, a workday. And at other times, we sense that we are at the midpoint of something less tangible: a relationship, a friendship, a love affair, the creative force of our lives.
In both cases, we have absolutely no idea where we stand in the scheme of things. Just as we can truly cross a room and reach the other end, we can never have certainty that we are in the middle of anything.
Life does not allow anything so neat and predictable.
Until recently, one of my clients believed that she was in the middle of her managerial climb at a major company–a client of ours–when the business slammed into a brick wall of its own, igniting a management shakeup and leaving my client suddenly (but temporarily) jobless.
So often when we think we are in the middle, we are near the end. People drop dead, lose their companies to Walmarts that move next door, lose their lovers to others who come out of left field, find that their position as the world’s iconic golfer ends in an hour and discover that their business technology is suddenly obsolete and not marketable.
Life has no respect for the middle.
The truth is that we are always in a timeless flux that demands us to live, to reach, to dream, to excel, to work, to create as if we are at the starting gate with absolutely no idea of how long the race is and when it will end. Because we don’t.
So many of the people I meet are treading water, content that they can do so because they are surely in the middle of the middle. So they have time, they tell themselves, to turn up the heat later on and finish with a flurry. It is an excuse for mediocrity. Or simply a deception. In either case, it is a pretense that must be challenged so that the middle doesn’t turn out to be a brick wall in disguise.
Or if it does, you have beat it to the punch and run the race as if there is no such thing as the middle.
Because it never comes when you think it will.
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