November 9, 2010 — Leave a comment

Not many people like looking at a mess. But not all messes are the same! Sometimes a mess is evidence that something important, something exciting is happening. At other times a mess is just that, a mess.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing very talented artists create spectacular pictures right before my eyes – works of art created in real time. However, for the most part, I and others with me were looking at a mess. If you watch this short video it will help explain what I mean:

Most people don’t get to see the messy stage. They only gaze at the finished product. They don’t see the chaos or the ‘trial and error’ which takes place. They only feast their eyes on the end result.

Referring to an artist and the mess you see before the final spectacle is just one example of looking at a mess which will ultimately result in something very different. What about the pile of rubble, the mud, the chaos you find on a building site before the structure appears?

When I am with people who are making changes in their lives, I warn them of a messy stage. I refer to this stage as ‘the in-between’! It is an inevitable stage between the beginning of a project and its conclusion. What prompted me to think like this was something Don Miller wrote in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  For him, the messy bit was the planning stage of film-making. Thinking about the process he writes:

”We are in for a lot of work – but this is the important part, the part nobody sees.”

The bits people don’t normally see – the ‘in-between’, the messy bit – are the important parts.

So, are you looking at messes right now? What should you make of them? To keep things simple, I suggest you ask two questions:

Firstly. Is this mess a part of a process, a part of being in the ‘in-between’? If it is, regard it as important, get on with life and look forward to the finished product.

Secondly. Is this a mess that just needs cleaning up? If it is, then label it for what it is- ‘a mess’- and get some help to clean it up. Otherwise it will continue to drain you of energy and prevent you from getting on in life. Indeed it might prevent you creating the proper messes, the important ones!

Check out A Million Miles in a Thousand Years on amazon.



Wyn Jones


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