* This blog was written at a challenging time when I was re-evaluating my life and my career. Ironically, a few months later the missing clarity came to me and I ended up giving up my business in order to take the job I'd always wanted.
I just got back from an action-packed week in London where I got to play tourist the entire time. And, if you’ve even been to London before, you know that the easiest way to get around is by using the underground trains, better known as the Tube.
Since I don’t work in the city anymore, I had forgotten how crowded, busy, and in a hurry everyone seems to be, with London being right there at the top of the list. This was especially evident when riding the Tube with continuous crowds moving on and off the trains, weaving in and out like a bunch of ants moving in all directions from a giant anthill. Hurry, hurry, hurry!
And yet what stood out the most for me about my Tube travels throughout London was not the fast pace or the diversity of people and languages or even the tightly packed trains. Instead, what stood out the most for me was the automated voice that rang out, “Mind the gap,” every time the train doors opened and closed. In fact, those three words were printed on the ledge separating the train doors from the platform at every stop. Mind the gap.
Ironically, just prior to my trip to the UK I had mentioned to Ross Rosenberg, last week’s guest on my radio show, that I was going to London and his comment back to me was, “Have fun and remember to mind the gap!”
What is so significant about “Mind the gap”? I wondered. And why can’t I get those words out of my head?
So I googled it...
According to Wikipedia, "Mind the gap" is a warning to train passengers to take caution while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform. It was introduced in 1969 on the London Underground.
Sounds simple enough, right? But I believe there’s much more to it.
The last couple of months my life has been in a constant state of flux. A lot of changes have been going on for me both personally and professionally and it’s made me a little uncomfortable. Granted some of the changes have been self-induced, like ending my marriage of seven years, but other changes have happened outside of my control, leaving me in a somewhat reactive mode. As a result, the stability and predictability that once framed my life has dissipated, leaving me feeling a little vulnerable as of late.
Let me put it another way: I’ve been experiencing a growing “gap” between the life I want and the life I currently have. Does that make sense? I get that I’m going through a transition of sorts right now but I’ve lost sight of what it is that I’m looking for. It’s like I’m below deck on a boat during a storm without any windows, rocking and rolling with no sense of where the horizon is.
One of my favorite quotes that captures what I’ve been experiencing comes from Marilyn Ferguson who says,
“It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear…. It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.”
Clearly I'm feeling suspended in midair in the gap between trapezes and my blanket is in the dryer. Part of me wants to enjoy the ride of not knowing what’s next while the other part of me is looking for the other trapeze.
Mind the gap
And then it occurred to me…
The reason why the words mind the gap are resonating so much with me this past week is because that is exactly what I need to do, mind the gap. Going back to the Tube reference, to mind the gap between the train and the station platform means to:
- be aware that there is a gap
- be present and in the moment when getting on and off the train
- be mindful of the surrounding environment (flow of people moving in all directions)
- be able to adjust direction as needed
Are you seeing the connection?
The universe is telling me to mind the gap. After all, it’s in the gap where the answers lie. It’s in the gap where the learning occurs. It’s in the gap where new opportunities arise. It’s in the gap where we get to take time to breathe and reflect. The gap is where it’s at, man!
So here’s my ultimate takeaway. What mind the gap really means is to embrace the uncertainty…the not knowing…the instability and the unpredictability. It means to trust the process and let go of expectations. It means to be present and open to outcomes. But most importantly, it means to stop, listen, and experience the silence between trapezes. Can you hear it?
Hmm. Who would have guessed that three words could mean so much!
-Geese, aka Greg Giesen