The hidden meaning of just-in-time

I remember sitting on a park bench one rainy Fall day, feeling miserable and hopeless. I’d just lost my bid for a position I coveted and worked hard to get. I’d tried everything I knew how to try; I’d sought advice from people with experience; I’d followed what they suggested as best I could. And didn’t get what I so badly desired. I could not see what I’d done wrong and felt I’d never be able to figure it out.

Have you experienced something like that? The glass ceiling that is seemingly unbreakable? If you have, I hope you’ve also experienced eventually breaking through. It may seem, once there’s a breakthrough, that it happened just in time.

I was taught that just-in-time was a good thing. Not always, it turns out. Seth Godin, in his blog ‘Just In Time’, notes that often, what seems just-in-time is simply the last thing we did or the last thing that happened before we got what we needed.

That badly needed fix, once done, means that effort trying to find a solution is no longer required. The long-awaited moment – when you’re close to giving up – arrives seemingly just in time.

It’s true that the thing you’ve worked so hard for often happens only after you’ve tried everything you can think of, then tried things you hadn’t thought of, then things others thought of, so that it seems it was that very last thing you tried that was the only possible thing left to try.

And, sometimes, it happens that what you so desperately need really does arrive just before you must give up.

But, not as often as you might believe. Humans – all of us, even the cynics among us – are naturally optimistic. We tend to remember when things work out, and forget when they don’t. This optimism of ours is what gives us hope: Hope that things will turn out all right; hope that all our hard work will result in what we’ve been working for.

Hope is indispensable for us. Without hope, we have nothing to move towards.

What I’ve learned is that sometimes hope is all we have for a long while, while we try many things that don’t work, until that day we find our way to what really does work for us. For me, the real meaning of just in time is the strength we have inside us to stay the course until that magical moment.

Quote of the Week

Sometimes too late is just in time.

C J Carlyon


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