Driving in muddy roads can be a challenge. Without the proper vehicle, your chances of spinning your wheels, getting stuck, or spinning off the road are high. Years ago, when I served as a missionary, we often traveled to distant villages, driving through unpaved roads. Without powerful four-wheel-drive vehicles, our medical team would not have reached our destination and accomplished our goals of serving people in the name of Christ.
The Muddy Middle
Starting a project or setting goals is like embarking on a journey. At the end of the line is success and excitement, but in the middle of the process, leaders and teams often run into muddy roads, or what Michael Hyatt calls “the messy middle.”
In her book, “Confidence: How Winning and Losing Streaks Begin and End,” author Rosabeth Moss Kanter stated that “everything will look like a failure in the middle.” That is when roads get muddy and we face the greatest challenge. It is also when the right decisions, much like the mode to switch to 4x4 will propel us forward.
How to Get Out of the Mud
January and February are exciting months, when we are launching into our annual goals. By November and December we know which ones will make it and which ones will fail. It is during the second and third quarter of the year that we need to engage in 4X4, simple measures to help move us firmly forward.
Evaluate: Take a look at what you accomplished thus far, pray, and ask the tough questions. Do I have enough resources, is this goal really attainable within this time frame?
Eliminate Clutter: I often hear that the good is the enemy of the best. Prioritizing is the art of eliminating a lot of reasonably good things you are doing, so you can focus on the best, those actions that will get you closes to your vision and contribute the most to your calling and purpose.
Stay the Course. Once you decided on your priority goals, push through. When you are running a marathon, there comes a time when your legs will want to quit. It is when the will takes over despite resistance from the body.
Focus on the Finish Line. Another lesson from marathons is that runners have one thing in their minds: the finish line, whether it is still 40 km ahead or just around the corner. A vision of the end result of God’s work through you will be the motivation for you and your team to push through the difficult struggles of the middle.
Wherever you are in the pursuit of your goals, there will come a time when your wheels will start spinning through the muddy middle. Engage your leadership in four wheel drive: Evaluate, eliminate clutter, stay the course, and focus. Soon you will see progress towards the goal God inspired you to set.