Stuck in the middle


Are you stuck in the middle?

Once again, I went off and read a blog that made me think. This blog, called The Fluent Self is written by Havi Brooks, who has a really cool writing style. Beyond that, you may want to check out the page yourself because it might be a bit risky for me to try to describe her further (read her about page and you’ll see why).

Back to the blog entry itself.  Titled Exit the Middle, the discussion is (like all good points) a really good, brief story. This story is about a yoga class, but it was pretty easy to see some direct correlations to some examples for speakers.

Last week, a Toastmaster member asked why members would work on a second (or more) Competent Communicator (CC) award? What is the value to completing what is considered the basic manual?

In the example in Havi’s post, there is a yoga class that was taught in a way that was difficult for basic students, but not so tough for more seasoned people. At the end of the class, the newer students were sweating and so were the really advanced ones. Those in the middle were not only mostly sweat-free, but complaining about the lack of challenge to the class.

So why were the most advanced members sweating like newbie’s?

Newbie’s – Challenged by the relative difficulty of the class
Advanced – Challenged themselves to get the most from the class

And the middle? They were not challenged by the class itself, and not able and/or willing to challenge themselves.

That’s the answer to the public speaker question. Newer Toastmasters are challenged by improving their speaking skills with that first manual. Advanced members (sometimes DTMs, but not always) have found ways to use that manual to challenge themselves and continue to improve.

Those in the middle? Havi says that you are stuck in the middle for as long as you choose to be. You have to be the one that decides to get unstuck. Of course, it will take a little more than a decision, it will take work. That is true whether you’re stuck in yoga-middle, Toastmasters-middle, or any other middle in your life.

Maybe the question isn’t “are you stuck in the middle?” I think the question is this: in what part of your life are you stuck in the middle, and when are you going to decide to step out?

While I work on getting that on a T-shirt, read Havi’s post and think about how you can make that change. If you are in that middle, then you are at a point where the external challenge is no longer a challenge. Look at how you can challenge yourself. For ideas, look at how others challenge themselves. Example, when I wanted to challenge myself to be a better speaker, I started a blog (yeah, this one).

I hate to sound like an 80’s business book, but think outside the box.  You could go in a totally different direction, like yoga. And after you sweat, you can write a really great speech about getting out of the middle…

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