In the Middle

View from an airplane window at the wings and flying over a scenic landscape of green hills and rivers

I am looking out my window this morning and am struck by the contrast in my view–the igloo my son built perched in the middle of weeks-old snow and the ocean. It is a beautiful view in any season and at any time of day or night and yet, the snow and the sea tweaks me a bit (for context, I was raised in southern California where there are no igloos on the beach!). It’s the being in the middle, in between winter and spring, one foot in and one foot out. It is the feeling of accomplishment for having (almost)made it through a pretty brutal winter in New England and knowing spring and summer and boats and flowers and fresh produce and warmth and shorts are very near.

The middle…in between…history and future…then and next. What a place to be. A friend called to tell me he lost his job; to be in between employment and unemployment. My spouse has a contract ending; to be in between one contract and the next. A client is in graduate school; to be in between undergraduate education and professional possibilities. Weathering the economic crisis in our country; to be in the middle of prosperity and catastrophe. My son is planning for his second semester in high school; to be in between being a scared freshman and a confident sophomore. A non-profit board of directors I coach is engaged in a deep planning activity; to be in between getting by and skillfulness.

I am curious about what it takes to be in this in between place. What does it take to be okay with where you are now, looking forward while honoring and taking the learning from where you were? How do you maximize this transitional, in between state? For me: I plan. I try to be patient. I strategize and research. I get excited. I try to be hopeful. I think of the “re” words that inspire me: renew, re-emerge,re-dedicate, restore, replenish. What I know is this in between state is not passive.

Think about this: In the same way I can import from my past to inform my future, I can import from my future dream to inform my present.A couple years ago my son and I backpacked all over India (he was ten!) for the summer. Our planning for this trip was a fun-filled 6 months before we even set foot on the sub-continent. We read travel books and ate Indian food and devoured Bollywood films and studied up on Gandhi. And also, since I had lived in India as an undergraduate many years before, we looked at old photos, re-read my research papers, and re-connected with all of the friends and families I knew there. It was a moment of perfectly drawing on the past and future to inform our present.

Whether I am watching the melting igloo from my warm office and dreaming about the spring or remembering an India I knew as a college student while eating masala dosa in Minneapolis and planning for endless games of Uno on third class trains or honoring the intent of my organization’s founder while I deliver services today and engage my board in a strategic planning process to guide our future, each place is an in between place that has value and can be leveraged.

What are you in between today?


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Gary M. Groth, MS, PCC, CPCC

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