Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stuck In The Middle

by Andrew Cromwell

You are at this very moment, standing right in the middle of your own ‘acres of diamonds.’ —Earl Nightengale

All of us know what it is like to be stuck in the middle. We have baked this idea into our language, with sayings such as “stuck between a rock and a hard place” and “out of the frying pan and into the fire”. We love new beginnings and spend time celebrating or lamenting the endings in life (endings of relationships, jobs, projects), but most of our time is spent doing life in the middle, somewhere between the beginning and the end.  

Most of us don’t particularly care for the middle. If you happen to be a middle child, you understand the challenge of being in-between older and younger siblings. You’re neither the golden first born nor the can’t-do-wrong baby of the family, and it seems that you always have to fight to get noticed.

Whether or not you are a middle child, the reality is all of us must become comfortable with living in the middle. Few of us will ever be the “big boss” of the corporation and have the final say. So we have to learn how to thrive somewhere between the top and the bottom at work and in life.

Most people don’t like where they are in life. They are always looking for the “next thing.” And while ambition can be healthy, it can keep us from excelling and succeeding right where we are. So very often, instead of thriving in our “middle” position, we instead waste time and energy dreaming about being somewhere else.

Whether you are in a “middle” at work, in your family or in your social setting, isn’t it time to start thriving right where you are? Saint Irenaeus said “man fully alive is the glory of God.” You and I will only be fully alive when we make the decision to fully embrace our current place. Yes, God might have different things for us to do in the future, but for right now, He has put us exactly where we are.

Here are three decisions you can make that will help you thrive in the middle:

First, choose to enjoy it and play the role well! Middle children learn how to solve family disputes and bring people together. They are usually the peacemakers in the family, acting as interpreters between warring parties. You can do the same thing right where you are. Help the “higher ups” understand the “little people” and vice-versa.

Second, choose to be the best right where you are. Find fulfillment in helping the team win. See your position as an opportunity to gain experience that will be valuable in the future. As you excel in your place, you will also rise to the top.

Third, choose to be an influencer for the good in every direction. If you’re in the middle of your work organization, you can still lead others by influencing them to make the right decisions. Far too many people take themselves out of the game because they say, “it’s not my job”. Instead, step up to the plate and make a difference!

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