By Paul McGinnis, Certified Halftime Coach
Every Halftime coach has been through his or her very own, unique Halftime experience. This fact is one of the most important things our clients have said they appreciate the most. They know their coach can relate to the craziness, confusion, joy, fear and excitement that many times describe this Halftime journey. But they also know the coach has come through it successfully.
When I went through my Halftime journey, a good friend encouraged me to journal about the experience. I took the challenge and actually found it to be quite therapeutic and a great way to process everything I was thinking through. The other day, I was reading through my Halftime journal and came across this entry from October 12, 2012. I remember it like it was yesterday. The experience and feelings seemed so fresh in my mind as I read the words I penned. And today, looking back, I’m glad I had a coach that came alongside me – encouraging me, challenging me and simply believing in me.
Journal Entry From October 12, 2012:
A lot of times during Christmas or Thanksgiving holidays, my family will work a puzzle. I love puzzles. I don’t know if it is the challenge of the puzzle or just seeing how all the pieces fit together to make a beautiful picture. Whatever it is, I love working them.
When I open the puzzle box, I simply dump all the pieces into one big pile. Then the first thing I do is search for the edges. Of course, finding the four corner pieces is exciting and if I’m working it with other people, it seems as if we are all racing to see who can find the corner pieces first. I never start in the middle of the puzzle and work my way out. I always look for the edges. Don’t you? Doesn’t that make sense? Finding the edges gives you perspective – how big is this puzzle, how long is one side. Starting with the edges lets you know if you need to find a bigger table to work this puzzle. It allows you to see how big or small things really are.
Then when you get the border of the puzzle done, you began building from the edge inwards. You might find a corner, or a certain part of the picture to start working on. And slowly but surely, the puzzle begins to take shape. The picture begins to reveal itself more and more as you connect the pieces. There is always several “ah-ha” moments when you realize you had a piece backwards or these two sections connect or the piece you needed was on the floor.
I realized recently this whole “puzzle process” is a great metaphor for my journey right now. I’ve taken a much-needed pause in my life. During this pause, I’ve dumped all the pieces of my puzzle on to my table. These pieces represent all of my experiences – good and bad, my relationships, my God-given talents and abilities, my weakness, my success and failures, my pride, my jobs, tragedy, the hurtful words I’ve spoken, my encouraging words – everything. At first, it just looked like a pile of craziness, making no sense and wondering what to do with it all.
But through the encouragement of my coach, I began to look for the edges in all of it. I needed to determine my values, my hope, my identity and my purpose – the corners. I needed to see how they connected with each other – the edges of the border. As I focused on the border, I put all the “middle pieces” aside. I knew they were there. I knew I was going to need to get to them eventually for this puzzle to be complete. But as hard as it was, I set them aside and focused on the edges and the edges alone. I wanted to complete the border before moving to the next step.
This was very hard for me, however I knew the inside of the puzzle represented distraction for me at this point. If I started working on the middle of the puzzle, I knew I would have been frustrated, depressed and very discouraged. Because I needed the perspective the border brings. I needed to see how everything fit together and I couldn’t do that by focusing on the middle.
So what are the corners for me? One of them is purpose. I realize my purpose is to glorify God and pursue people. Another one is my identity. My identity must be in God – the One who has pursued me from the beginning of time trying to reconcile me to Himself and who loves me more than I can ever fully understand. My identity cannot be in my wife, my kids or my job. It cannot be in money or things or any other relationships. God is the only one that can supply all of my needs – physically, emotionally and spiritually. To put my wife, Maryann, in that role of “meeting all my needs” is unfair to her and will only frustrate me. Your spouse cannot provide all of your needs. Let me say that again . . . your spouse cannot provide all your needs.
As I’ve gone through the Halftime process, God has also revealed where He has gifted me. I’ve discovered three main “sweet spots” (which might define the edges of this puzzle) during this time: 1) coaching/mentoring 2) organizational leadership and 3) teaching/communicating. I believe my “next job” will somehow entail these three things. However, my “next job” is still in the middle of the puzzle. I need to remind myself. . . . I’m still working on the border (although I believe I’m close to finishing it).
So I don’t want to stay up all night right now wondering how those three areas are going to come together for me. I want to remain patient and focused. I want to finish my border. I want to focus on “being” not “doing.” I don’t want to be restless, which has typified my life a lot up to this point. I want to be content. I want to let God be God and remind myself that I am not Him. Then, this puzzle I’m working on will take shape and no doubt make a beautiful picture.
Maybe you are where I was a few years ago. Maybe you are at the place where your puzzle is in disarray. Maybe you’re struggling trying to find the edges. You may be overwhelmed at this point ready to give up on the whole thing. Let the Halftime Institute help. We are all about helping high-capacity leaders move from success to significance so they can live a life with greater joy and impact. Everything we do is centered on teaching, coaching and connecting these leaders through a process as they discover purpose and get engaged in issues they care deeply about.