There is a monster we face at key points in our lives. Sometimes it wears a set of dripping fangs, sometimes it wears a suit, sometimes it’s invisible (but you can feel it breathing down your neck—or your eyeballs).
The more projects you complete, the better you know this monster. Having completed a project, you’ve faced it down and prevailed.
In my experience, it is not exactly Joseph Cambell’s archetypal Threshold Guardian, but I have been calling it that, or the Guardian at the Gate, almost as long as I’ve known it.
I first became aware of it when I was working on an art performance piece with a group of artists and poets many years ago. At one point, the whole thing just crumbled. People were angry, disheartened, or otherwise disenchanted, and it seemed the project was doomed. Fortunately, one of our wiser players managed to amuse and annoy us enough to bring our mountainous issues back down to molehill size. To our amazement, the show went on.
Shortly after that, I noticed the same “bump” in a personal project. Suddenly, seemingly-brilliant ideas went dim, my abilities were questionable, and I was tempted to throw in the towel. But it had the familiar aroma of that nearly-doomed art performance, so I dug in my heels and pushed on. At some point, the project revived itself, and I was able to complete it.
Since then, I’ve noticed the pattern repeating itself in both large and small endeavors; I’ve begun to look upon it as a Good Sign, and an opportunity.
Frankly, I’m not always sure what it’s a sign of, but it’s always an opportunity.
This Pressing Through time is often when we discover new tools for productivity, or new strengths in ourselves and our teammates. Any lurking doubts have risen to the surface, demanding to be addressed, now.
The key, however, is to recognize it for what it is—not an impassable barrier, but a bump in the road, a patch of fog, a Guardian at the Gate… and maybe even a Good Sign.
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