The Messy Middle
I love the little lessons I learned in developing our property and how relatable it is to riding. We couldn’t afford to buy a finished horse property so we choose a blank canvas. A bare piece of land to work our way through as we could afford.
We lived in Bens’s parent’s caravan while the shed got built, moved into the shed while the house got built and built each paddock as we could afford the rails. Each week we consistently did a little bit, this could of been just a few fence holes one week or moving a few wheelbarrow loads of topsoil the next.
What we have today is quite different, six years later. Through those 6 years has been what you could call the messy middle, the big piles of dirt everywhere, unfinished lawns, weeds everywhere, driveways flooded, arena half done, mud, mud and more mud.
Through those times I remember just wishing for something simple like grass coverings because the dust through summer blowing clay and topsoil through the house wasn’t pleasant.
However, while there were times of frustration and moments of ‘I just want it now!!’ I wouldn’t take any of it back and happily do it all again for what it has taught me.
The hard work, sweat and teachings of pure patience, consistency, small steps and dedication of doing it yourself and learning along the way have been incredible. It’s helped me grow so much as a person and learn so many lessons.
How this relates to riding, is that so much of it is about just this, not the finished product.
The finished product in this case “grass” and a landscaped horse property as the goal. If you were to look at a photo today, you don’t see the behind-the-scenes, the stories, the lessons, the hard work, the tears and the stress. None of that. You just see the finished product and some lovely trimmed hedges (that we enjoy doing ;))
What I value most about the finished product is in fact the messy middle, the history, the journey, the stories of obstacles and hurdles and who I have grown into on the journey. The lessons of ‘figuring’ things out and the satisfaction of working towards that goal through those messy parts.
It’s given me an appreciation for others’ “finished products” and success when I know they have worked their way to where they are today.
So when I see a rider performing well I have no judgement, just empathy and appreciation for their hard work. Their behind the scenes, the challenges they may have had to go through to get to where they are today. When you look at things through that lens, there is no room to judge.
And if I see someone experiencing their messy middle, again no judgement, just kindness, encouragement and support if they need it.
You see, if you are wanting to chase your goals, you have to accept that there are going to be messy middle phases, weeks or months, maybe years where things feel like they don’t progress. There will be times when you get frustrated and times when it all seems too hard and too big a challenge.
The key I believe is having that clear vision and a clear path. Knowing where you are heading and what you are wanting to achieve. Reminding yourself of that daily, staying disciplined towards that vision and then, just small, sometimes even tiny steps towards it. You may even step backwards for a bit, dust yourself off and then get back on your path again.
Then through hard work, consistency and most of all patience, you will take steps towards your goal.
You will learn that the messy middle is, in fact, the most beautiful part, it is giving you the lessons, growth and perseverance to help you step into the person who can achieve those goals.
So keep showing up, keep your eye on your goal and when you make those small milestones, celebrate them. By celebrating them you are reinforcing to yourself that you can do this.
Because at the end of the day it’s those small milestones that are the real prize. The rewards are so much greater when you have learnt lessons along the way and you know yourself the work you have put in to achieve them and who you have grown into along the way.