If you have read any Buddhist work or teachings you will have frequently encountered the expression ‘The Middle Way’. The simple life guidance of finding a path between the extremes of austerities and sensual indulgence.
It is no surprise that I am inspired and deeply aligned with this thinking. The middle way is very simple. Keep it simple and you will find the balance you have been yearning for. All extremes are fear based and destructive to you and those around you.
One of the outcomes of a successful coaching relationship is to define and follow a middle way. And in its simplest form it remains the best advice for working through difficult and complex situations that many of us are facing today.
Things like disappointing sales results, lower than expected income levels, reduction in performance, loss of connection and collaboration across teams, loss of morale and motivation, pointlessness, lack of purpose, overwhelm, defeat, self-doubt. We begin to crave the opposite.
Under the misleading banner of radical creativity, I have noticed clients and companies adopt extreme counter strategies to steer out of trouble. The actions whilst sometimes delivering a short term win, just perpetuate and accelerate the swing of the pendulum. When you spend lots of time trying to maintain an extreme, nothing moves forward. You get stuck in a rut. You become stuck working too hard or too little, fatigue and self doubt return.
The next time you face an extreme, and feel the emotional response (such as when someone cuts you up in traffic!) here are some thoughts to find your middle way:
- Immediately ask yourself what the two extreme responses are that you could choose – this instantly jolts your brain into realising there may be a middle response too!
- Take a pause, especially if you are not naturally a reflective type.
- Run a sweep of your resources (people, time, finds, equipment, and space) simply assessing which are in full use and which are not – this can often inspire a creative new approach using what is there already, but differently.
- Where are you feeling pressure (physical and mental), what steps could you take to relieve that (stand up, stretch, breathe, release, let go, pass on, delegate)
There are many tactics that can help here, get the book or trawl through the blog archive.
And by the way it’s okay that your pendulum swings. In fact it is necessary in order to show where the middle might lie! And as soon as you stop the swing you will find yourself filled with more energy, that was, up until now, wasted on the extremes.
As always, keep it simple.