We're All in the Middle
Bill the maintenance man came to my door the other day to check on some stuff, and he ended up getting into a discussion about guitars with my roommate. They started to talk about comparing your skills to other people, and Bill said something really powerful that I had never thought about before:
"We're all in the middle. There's always someone better than you, and you'll always be better than someone else."
I love that statement because it does five things if we take it to heart:
1) It keeps us humble.
One of the easiest ways to lose your head is by thinking you are better than everyone else. Many of us like to "look down" on others, but how often do we "look up"?
When we remind ourselves of our place in the middle, it's easier to stay humble and prevent a "holier than thou" attitude. We may be better than some people, but there are plenty of other people who are better than us.
Being in the middle balances us out.
2) It keeps us content.
Some people spend too much time looking down on other people, while there are others who do the exact opposite. They look up too much.
If you're like me, then you struggle with comparing yourself to other people. I tend to fixate on how much better everyone else is than me, and I end up beating myself into the ground. It's a vicious cycle.
Focusing on my place in the middle brings me peace and contentment, knowing that I'm okay and so is everyone else.
3) It calls us to get better.
It's possible to be content and yet at the same time strive to get better. Contentment is peace and lack of anxiety; it's not an excuse to sit around and stay where you are. It's possible to be content and improve our lives at the same time.
When we accept our place in the middle, we're reminded of the fact that we have room to grow. It calls us to be at peace in our current situation, but it also beckons us towards greater things.
4) It calls us to help others.
Too often, people treat creative work as a competition. But here's the thing:
Creativity isn't a free-for-all... it's a team sport.
Remember, we are in the middle, which means we are better than some people. We have knowledge and talent that many other people do not have.
Some will use this dominant position as a power play, holding their superiority over peoples' heads. But this isn't the right path.
Instead, we should reach downwards and help each other get better. It's easy to do this knowing that we're all in the same place. We're all in the middle, so we can all relate to one another.
I can put myself in John's shoes because I too am in a place where people are better than me. I ask myself, "what would I want someone to do for me?", and I realize the answer is "reach down and help me get better".
So that's exactly what I want to do.
A Powerful Reminder
I'm glad Bill the maintenance man knocked on my door the other day. His words are a reminder that we're not perfect. In fact, it's a reminder that we'll never be perfect.
We're always going to be in the middle, and I'm glad. Because it means we're all in the same place, working together.
I like the sound of that a lot better than being above everyone else. How about you?