I've only read parts of Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The cruel reality of tipping points is they often are not seen until after the train begins its departure from the station. Good or bad, happy or sad we've seen this many times in our collective lifetimes.
In America, we're living in a post-tipping point place. Our government is now exposed for what it truly is, organizations are now truly competing on a global playing field and the idea of a work-life contract is no longer a theory. I know many in the middle part of America (other areas might be similar) who seem to be waiting. In waiting, I mean waiting for the past to make an encore appearance in their lives. This is rooted in desiring certainty and security. In other words, what I knew before is much better than this unknown place I find myself in today.
I've counseled before that "known" things once were unknown. And that life is full of multiple processes of moving from known to unknown and unknown to known. We often resist this. I'm sure it's rooted in our childhood and what we witnessed. No blaming and judgement here, but if you had an example of "better to conform" than to take a risk at losing something, then you probably lean toward conformity. Risking embarrassment or the pain of failing will be like the plague to you.
There is hope.
Up until 4 years ago, exercise was like a nagging wife or mother to me. I consequently leaned toward fitful starts and stops for way too many years. It wasn't until I decided that life was a gift to be nourished and treated well, did I make a decision to do the rewarding and hard work of exercise. I've applied this in virtually every key (8) area of my life. I haven't regretted it and my life is better for it.
Regardless of your circumstances, there will always be a road after the tipping point. Some harder (reinvention, changing habits, etc.) than others, but always a road that leads to breakthrough. Can you see it?
A wise friend once told me a long time ago that my life would be made up of multiple lifetimes. I think I just nodded and went on.
Welcome to the future.
It's very clear that most people look into their personal crystal ball and define what they see accordingly. The future. In my case I saw one long run on Broadway. It was uninterrupted by life or the circumstances therein. No shock here, but things often changed and I became good at navigating. Sometimes the navigating was done by the stars.
In our time we are a culture of second acts and encores. Reinvention is the norm. At first glance for some this brings sadness. Many were counting on things playing out as one show, one performance. But reality set in and we were told the curtain was coming down. We looked over our shoulder and saw someone younger, prettier and certainly cheaper lying in wait. It was the end.
Or was it?
When our eyes are opened and things are clear we can understand a forgotten truth. The truth of second acts and encores. We are continually experiencing them. And it is a good thing. Call it the width of life and not just the length. Those that have decided that security and stability are to be worshiped will not understand this. I recommend you expect and embrace your second acts and encores. Savor the opportunity to fashion a wonderful ending or a song concluding the performance. Just don't linger too long over the empty auditorium. This will take a little getting used to.
I have had friends, family, money, jobs, business ideas, and more that lasted for only a time. Some ended sooner than I would have liked, others seemed to drone on and on. But all were a part of forming the painting that is my life. It is a strange dichotomy that we crave things that will ultimately hold us back, while rejecting the things that open up doors to our dreams. I fear less and my grip is now a little less firm because I want what's to come to just come and set me forward to the next act. Is the alternative really a better option?
Here are some things you should consider for the road ahead:
- Second acts and encores are happening whether you participate or not. Everyone gets the chance to perform or leave the audience wondering what's wrong.
- Since the second acts and encores are in motion, why not prepare? Have a song list, rehearse how you will exit.
- Don't romanticize your past. It wasn't as great as you think it was.
- If you're a rugged individualist, "self-made", a do it on my own type, then stop. Life was not meant to be a solo journey.
- Embrace your sadness as you would your happiness.