I decided to take a full 24 hours to think about Bindu’s post on Discipline rather than write about it yesterday. I’m glad I slept on it.
The middle. The thing that makes a sandwich, a sandwhich. The best part of an Oreo. The jelly in the donut. And very often, the thing that will make or break a project.
The act of doing something each day, the same thing each day, can take your life from the level of amateur to professional….
…Ask any working artist what the difference is between a pro and a hack, and they will all tell you that doing whatever EVERY DAY is what separates the two.
And it’s also what separates being frustrated with what you want to do in life from being fulfilled. It’s simply discipline.
The simple fact of the matter is that things take A LOT of work. If you want anything in your life to move or grow, you’ve got to log the long everyday hours doing it. There’s not a lot of glory along the way.
Middles are where we delay gratification. Delaying gratification is an amazing powerful tool to develop in ourselves.
I love the middle. Here’s why:
When things start, there’s enthusiasm. Mass energy. Viral spirits that catch and ignite and begin the lift off. I love beginnings. I also am highly suspicious of them. I’m afraid to fail. I love being a part of the communal choir that forms….then become overwhelmed with the stimulation. Can’t hear myself think. During the beginning phase of anything I’m constantly analyzing how badly I want this.
If I’m going to ever quit on something, it will be in the beginning, just before things get rolling. That can be both good and bad. Quitting obviously robs momentum. That sometimes has affect on others than myself. On the other hand, it helps me maintain priorities. And it gets me out of someone else’s way if I’m just going to end up as dead weight.
If I decide I do really want it, need it, or otherwise don’t have power to choose and must do it, I’ve possessed it. It becomes a part of my fabric. Quitting no longer is an option and a forced exit or amputation will be painful. This also makes it difficult for me to delegate tasks: their performance becomes how I see mine.
On the other hand, if I’m part of a team and we’re in the middle, I enjoy taking delegation. It means I’m free to work hard and get a gold star for the good of the group. It means ultimate responsibility wasn’t my call but I still have a hand in the success or failure. This is my favorite part of teamwork.
Which was articulated in the comments of that post:
I’m not a middle person. I’m really a starter and a reluctant finisher. I usually hope for someone else who likes middles to come along and help me out For me, middles are the danger point where I can get distracted into starting something else. I’ve avoided so many middles that way. Perhaps the answer is to team up with a group of 3 – a starter, a middler and a finisher. There is so much joy in collaboration and in recognising our strengths rather than our weaknesses.
It was a lightbulb moment for me, one that I took to bed and chewed over in my sleep. We can each have strengths through these stages that contribute to the greater good; not weaknesses that makes us “bad” at something.
I’m not a biggie for the end of things either: they are not so gratifying as perhaps they should be. They signal the end of something, the start of another, which means CHANGE. Which makes me cringe so usually, I’m anticipating the next thing before the one that I’m working on finishes, so as to avoid that discomfort.
For me, discipline comes in taking my time through each step. Not rushing the process. PACING MYSELF. Making peace with the peace that comes from accomplishment.
We’re in the middle of the 21.5.800. This is where we live. This is where the participants in the project will either hold the pose and stay balanced or wobble and fall. I’m a middle. Today my yoga work out was it’s most intense, my word count is finished. I hope my Middle Energy helps some Starter find encouragement and some Finisher know that I’m coming, baton in hand. I hid, listening to the starters in the beginning and I’ll need the boost at the end of this thing.