At some point, most of us want to quit.
Something keeps us going.
For each person it’s different, but for each person, it’s a driving force…what I call “The Throughline.”
My dear pal Jim Freydberg, the Broadway producer, sent me the image below a few months back.
I loved it. I looked it up and it turns out the image is all over the internet.
What I suspect makes this drawing so popular is that we all feel at times like we’re in that tangled mess…and we all think it’s wrong.
Sometimes we’re the sailing arrow; sometimes we’re in the squiggles…(or as the guitarist/songwriter Mark Knopfler says, “Sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug.”)
It’s nice to know that everyone goes through this. Success is filled with screw ups, struggles and sideways steps. Welcome to life.
Years ago in the 1990s, I called Jim in a moment of great despair. I needed some advice and I needed someone who knew the emotional terrain of the performing arts. As a producer, he’d won a Tony award and not many years later, another one of his productions was panned by the press. He’d gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. So I knew he’d understand.
“I want to quit,” I murmured into the phone. He listened, absorbed what I was saying, and then replied. His voice was calm.
“You can’t quit. You can take a break, but you can’t quit.”
I got back up on my feet, and I kept going. I had something I wanted to share. It wasn’t entirely formed, it wasn’t entirely clear, but I knew it had something to do with helping people live life on their own terms, risk forward, and express their vision.
I believe The Throughline is at the core of every business, every Broadway show, every presentation…and every life. Your Throughline is why you do what you do, and once you know that, everything changes. It’s not about the goal; it’s about something much, much larger.
Whether you’re in the tangled mess or panned by the press, reconnecting with your Throughline will help you find your way out. Every time.