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Darkest before dawn

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Darkest before dawn

Scott Miker

The other day I overheard someone say “it’s always darkest before dawn.”  I missed the majority of the conversation but caught enough to catch the meaning.  They were insisting that the bad times they were experiencing were going to lead to good times.

We have all probably heard that saying.  We can go online and find the origin and criticisms of this quote.  We can even find myth-busting websites that evaluate it scientifically.

But to me it isn’t about the quote’s accuracy or it scientific validity.  It is simply a reminder that life is cyclical.  The storms don’t last forever.  The good times don’t stay at their elevated state.  The wonderful thing about life is the way in which our experiences ebb and flow. 

The phrase ebb and flow comes from the way the tide comes in and out.  The ebb represents the returning of the water and the flow represents the tide coming in and pushing water further and further inland. 

The reality is that observing the tide we can easily see that it doesn’t stay low or high.  It is always moving back and forth.  Times of high tide are followed by low tide.  Times of low tide are followed by times of high tide. 

In life we experience the highs and lows in a similar way, except that they aren’t nearly as regular or consistent.  But we still will find a similar ebb and flow.  Therefore, in times of great success realize that “pride cometh before a fall.” 

In low times realize that “no storm lasts forever.”  Regardless of the struggles you are facing, they will subside.  We can make progress and work hard to improve our situation and get past the storm. 

Rory Vaden uses a great example of buffalo charging towards a storm instead of away from it.  He gives a great story of buffalo in Colorado.  The point of the story is that as the storm travels overhead the buffalo somehow know that if they run away from the storm it will last longer than if they charge right at it.  The take-away is to realize that we have to face problems head on to reduce their negative effects. 

So realize that whatever you are going through in life, whether positive or negative, it will not remain forever.  There will be changes.  There will be ebb and flow to life and times of success and times failure, times of struggle and times of ease. 

The best way that I have found to continue to improve during this natural ebb and flow is to look at improvement systematically.  Understand the various factors and take a long-term approach.  Find small changes that can be made that will have great benefit over the long term. 

Because doing this helps to make progress.  Yes there will still be times of success and times of struggle but through it all you will still be striving for improvement.  The growth that comes from this type of improvement is greater than the ups and downs and helps us to improve in areas that we identify as important.  Then we can have a higher-level view during the dark hours before dawn understanding that the light is right around the corner.