By engaging the middleness of events in our life, we can often find great value.
I am a big sports fan and so I enjoy listening to sports talk radio where there is always talk about different stats from that game or this player. Often, they talk about how well teams play in the very beginning and end of games and ignore the middle part of these games.
For example, there are countless stats about players getting off to a great start and/ or finishing well, but we don't hear much at all about how these same players do in the middle of the games. We hear about players and teams who are great "closers" but rarely hear about how well they perform in the middle of their respective sports.
This happens across sports: from professional Golf (Saturday is moving day and Sunday is the closing day, but what about Friday?) to professional football (all types of stats about third down conversions, for example, but none about second down), to baseball to hockey (rarely do we pay attention to the second period stats--it is only the first and third period that sticks out).
We are also familiar with this same outlook in books, movies and plays. When writing we are told to engage the audience with a strong opening line and paragraph and make sure we finish strong. This same thinking is played out in the movies and plays we watch as we tend to remember the opening and closing scenes but often forget those middle ones.
Are our brains wired for only the bookends in life? Do we have such short attention spans that we are only interested in the beginning and ends of life's events?
While I certainly don't have the answers for those questions, I do know this: embracing the middleness in life leads to tremendous value. This applies to your business as much as to your personal life. Allow me to walk you through some examples:
- The middle of the day or I feel like I'm going to fall asleep because it is 3 o'clock syndrome: we are all familiar with the middle of the day and how oftentimes we get sleepy and can't seem to focus well. Again, we do well in the morning and have lots of energy and focus, but by the middle of the day, we feel like we need to take a quick nap to recharge. I encourage you to take a different approach--everyone around you is snoozing during this time of the day so it is the perfect time to energize yourself, your colleagues and your patients. Make phone calls, write blog posts, do something with energy at this time of day and you will leave yourself and your audience impressed. Because we have fallen into the rut of thinking that the middle of the day is the lull, we don't put much effort into making it a productive or eventful moment for ourselves.
- The middle of your patient appointment or business meeting: this is where we tend to lose interest and start looking at our phones and our watches preparing for what we are going to do after the appointment or meeting. What if you saved your idea or your advice until this time? I am confident you would have an easy time impressing whoever it is you are talking to. Again, because we don't put much effort into the middle, we tend to roll right through these times. This is the very best time to wow your clients and patients.
- The middle of your next project: again, in line with the theme of this article--the middle is when we tend to put less effort and less enthusiasm into our projects. We start well with energy and ideas propelling us forward and we end well with images of our clients enjoying the fruits of our labor. But the middle of the project? This is when we stall, we hit the wall and delay. A better approach is to embrace the middle by reigniting your energy and focus for this very purpose. Not only will your co-workers be impressed and motivated by this, but so will you.
When we stop and think about the middle, though, we do realize that the bulk of life is lived "in the middle". Think about your last family get-together or the last time you ate out at a fancy restaurant. Likely, the fun and enjoyment of those occasions came from the middle, what is supposed to be the boring section.
As our lives get more and more sped up with pressures and deadlines and staying two steps ahead, what we often value most is the peace and calm and quiet of the middle. This is the family dinner around the table after a long day. This is the milling around on Saturday afternoon without knowing what to do. This is the in-between moments of our lives that we cherish more than we realize. Sure, getting to Disney World is exciting, but the laughter in the hotel room is what we usually carry with us.
Embrace the middle, the boring section and all the in-betweens in life. Not only will you find that you become more productive and stand out of the crowd more, you will also find that you will cherish those moments more. And as we all search for the ability to find more tranquility in the roaring storms around us, living in the middle-moments makes so much sense.