(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


Imminent has a sense of drama about it – near-term, looming, potentially threatening. It may not feel very comfortable. The point of this Distinction is that imminent is frequently confused with, and incorrectly used interchangeably for, inevitable.

Inevitable only means that it will, without question, happen. Synonyms for inevitable are: unavoidable, predictable, inescapable, certain, and predestined. But not when.

For instance, Earth will inevitably be consumed by the collapsing, exploding Sun. Three minutes of online inquiry will provide the basic science explaining that inevitable outcome. But it won’t happen for a long, long, long, long . . . long, time. It is not imminent.

When you find yourself tense about the future, first pause to see if your concern is even likely; is it inevitable? What are the facts to support that?

Then look at the time-frame. Is it about to happen soon? Having reserves is useful for dealing with that which is truly imminent. The greater the reserves, the more flexibility you have for a response.


Coaching Point: Have you ever felt that something was imminent, then discovered it wasn’t? Perhaps inevitable, but not imminent?


Copyright 2016 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.