By Jeff Spadafora, Halftime Institute Director of Global Coaching


I recently read a review of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, written in Italy in the late 1200’s. It’s fiction I had always heard about but never read (and I still haven’t, I’ve only read a detailed commentary!)

I was struck how Dante’s life and his epic poem are both classic Halftime stories.  Dante was a Papal magistrate in Florence when he got caught in the cross-fire of political maneuvering that resulted in getting “laid off” from his job and banished from his hometown. At the top of his game, Dante’s career and identity are ripped from him.

There is a myth that all Halftimers are successful and virtuous people who suddenly decide to go make a noble difference with their lives in their 40’s and 50’s.  The truth of the matter is that many are broken and have been pushed into a situation that causes them to re-evaluate their lives. Could this be you?

The hero in Dante’s poem (also called Dante) finds himself in a similar situation at midlife. The opening reads:

“When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,

I found myself within a shadowed forest,

for I had lost the path that does not stray.”

Sound familiar? For many Halftimers that are pursuing success, they suddenly realize at mid-life that it’s not as fulfilling as they had hoped and they are disoriented by this new awareness. It’s a painful season when everything you dreamed of turns out to be empty. The poem continues:

‘Ah, it is hard to speak of what it was,

that savage forest, dense and difficult,

which even in recall renews my fear:

so bitter — death is hardly more severe!”

In this valley of despair, Dante (the hero) looks up at the mountain tops and sees sunlight shining on the pinnacle. In Halftime parlance we call this “Discovering Vision”. The Halftimer sees a distant hope that they could do something with their life that has more purpose and joy. As Dante strives to climb the mountain toward the light, he keeps running into obstacles: a leopard, then a lion, and lastly a wolf. He gives up the effort believing it is too arduous.

This is a common challenge for Halftimers: when trying to reorient toward God’s true calling for us, our work, finances, lifestyle and relationships often get disrupted. We see many Halftimers, initially enthused about a newly envisioned life, give up around months 6-8 of their effort. “Death can hardly be more severe” than giving up on our comfort zones!

Like many Halftimers, Dante decides to drop back into the valley of status quo, where he meets Virgil (the first Halftime Coach!) who says:

“But why do you return to wretchedness?

Why not climb the up the mountain of delight,

the origin and cause of every joy?”

Virgil proves to be a great encourager and guide as he ultimately helps our hero overcome many obstacles and ascend back up the mountain toward the life God has always intended for him.

As for Dante the poet and author, his second half legacy is this masterpiece of literature that he would probably never had written if his prominent status and job weren’t ripped from him. Could something painful in your life right now be a blessing in disguise that is the starting point of new adventure that might lead you to a life of deeper joy and impact?

To explore how the Halftime Institute can help you navigate this journey, click here. You can experience what the poet and hero Dante discovered: there is a better life available if you lean into this exhilarating – and sometimes painful –discovery process.

Jeff Spadafora
Jeff Spadafora is a Master Certified Halftime Coach and a Lead Faciliator for The Halftime Institute. He spent 20 years as a leadership and executive development consultant for Fortune 1000 companies such as Ford Motor Company, Easter Seals. Compassion International, Compuware, Domino’s Pizza, Visteon, Northern Trust Bank, and Helene Curtis.

In 2005, Jeff was inspired by Bob Buford’s book Halftime and began his journey of discovering God’s true purpose for his second half. As he worked with his Halftime coach, it became clear that his calling is to help other people discover their calling.

He has coached over 130 men and women through the Halftime Journey and continues to make this a primary part of his ministry. As the leader of The Halftime Institute’s global coaching staff, he is also responsible for recruiting, training, and managing Halftime Certified coaches throughout the world.

Jeff served on the staff leadership team for ten years and was the lead designer of the Halftime curriculum and one of the primary facilitators of workshops for groups of people embarking on the Halftime journey. Jeff also writes and speaks globally about the issues of life purpose, joy, and kingdom impact.

His latest book, The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Life of Peace, Purpose, and Balance, is the result of a decade of personal growth, life coaching, coach leadership and study. WWW.THEJOYMODEL.COM

Jeff lives in Evergreen Colorado with his wife Michelle and has 3 children. He enjoys fishing, hunting, skiing, mountain biking and everything else the great outdoors of Colorado has to offer.

“Too many people focus the better part of their lives on the wrong things: the company’s agenda, other peoples’ ideas of success . . . money. Over time, this leads to frustration and emptiness. True freedom comes as a people discover their God-given design and pour themselves into service for others.” –Jeff Spadafora

Checkout Jeff's Articles:
The “Cowboy” Approach to Your Second Half Just Doesn't Work
What Should I Do With My Life?
I Lost My Heart
A Journey
An Ancient Halftimer

Listen to his podcasts:
Eternal Leadership - Coaches Corner
Eternal Leadership - Smoldering Discontent
Knowledge for Men
Theology of Business
Professional Christian Coaching Today
iWork4Him - Joy and Happiness