Lately I’ve been encountering broken eggs and I wonder why. My son loves eggs and lately all he wants for breakfast is a fried egg and tea. Of course with Heinz ketchup to top it all up. We would rather run out of vegetables in my house but not Heinz ketchup. It’s a staple diet of sorts. Recently he got into the pantry and picked an egg to try and fry it. Between the pantry and the cooker he dropped the egg and it broke of course. A few days later his sister did the same thing. Luckily we have a canine vacuum cleaner in the name of Spike our dog that licked it all up.
Last week was our second roundtable by the Halftime Institute. I feel privileged to have a front row seat in the lives of people as they look back into their lives, consider what lies ahead and attempt to discover what their purpose is. Being a Halftime facilitator and coach (I just passed my coaching certification exams. Makofi tafadhali hehe) is one reward of my own confusion and anxiety as I seek to discover what next for me going forward. My motivation has been the same as that of king Julian in the animation where he tells his right hand chap Maurice, “I don’t want just to exist, I want to live’’. Spending two days helping folks go through their halftime transition brought me alive again. Plus, the Halftime material is thorough and easy to use as a roadmap to help one move into a life of significance. Our third cohort loading soon. I’ll keep you posted.
One of the activities we start with in our sessions to break the ice and set context is that we all form a circle and throw objects at each other. You receive from and throw to someone standing opposite you. You are required to focus on the person you are receiving a ball from then throw it gently to the one you’re supposed to. Within a short while there are several balls criss crossing each other in the air. At this point confusion sets in as one tries to keep their eye on the ball coming to them and look at the other balls in the air at the same time. Soon after objects start dropping one by one.
We do this exercise twice then in the third round introduce an egg without the participants’ knowledge. Last week the egg didn’t go past the first throw. Susan saw it and freaked out. It fell to the ground and broke. After this exercise Alex my co facilitator asked the participants their learnings from this exercise. This is where the light bulbs started coming on.
Life at 40 is almost always on multitasking mode. Even men who cannot chew gum and cross the road are forced to multitask. We are growing our careers, families, wealth and still learning ourselves as we change at the same time. That’s what the objects represent in the exercise. All balls have to remain in the air somehow. If we are to choose what balls to drop, it will be a difficult decision to make. But when a ball falls like the egg did and breaks then it gets even more complicated.
We have all dropped balls on the journey of our lives. Some drops have had a huge impact on us and some have not. Guys at the workshop gave several responses on what the exercise means to them but Susan gave a response that hit us all in the room like an over speeding matatu driving on the wrong side of the road. She said that for her it’s not so much the balls in the air that she has managed to catch. But what does she do with the broken egg that dropped. How does the broken egg affect the other balls or eggs in the air?
Susan disclosed that she dropped an egg twenty years ago that has affected other balls in her life. I must admit she is a brave lady. But then again at 40 we tend to delete the screensavers we had on and get more comfortable in our skins. Halftime is a messy period but necessary to set us on the path of living the rest of our lives meaningfully. Another participant also shared a life altering experience she went through many years ago that made her work hard at covering up the scars of that experience. Thanks to the halftime process and her own willpower, she is slowly turning those scars into badges of honor. They act as reminders of where she has come from and how she is rising above her challenges. Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. That’s what this guys are doing thanks to the halftime process.
Folks what do you do when you are expected to move on with life after you have dropped a ball or two that were key to you. Once an egg drops there is nothing that we can do about it, well apart from allowing Spike to lick it up. Yet life demands that we move on. It is easy to get stuck at the broken egg and stare at it in disbelief. All the while other balls remain in the air and are at high risk of dropping too depending on how long we take staring at the broken egg. The longer we remain stuck at this point the higher the collateral damage.
About eighteen years ago I lost a project that I had sunk all my business earnings into. I was young and foolish (though I prefer to say ambitious) so I bit off more than I could chew. I took a bank loan that I could not service and that costed me my entire mjengo. I got depressed for a while and felt like I had lost several years of my life. I was stuck there staring at that broken egg until my pal Tony came along and told me, “at least they haven’t cut off your hands and auctioned them like your house. You can generate more wealth and do much better’’. That advice was like the frying pan I needed to fry my new egg of hope again. I think I have gone one up and made an omelette since.
Eggs will break and there’s nothing we can do about them. We should learn the lesson quickly and go back to focusing on the ones in the air as we move along in life to prevent further loss. It helps to have a dog too to leak off the bad memories of the broken eggs.