Are you in the middle of a major change in some area of life right now?
Feeling squeezed? Confused? Not sure what to do or where to turn?
Are you challenged by a change?
Perhaps the change you are dealing with results from a decision you made to alter something about your life. Maybe you decided to change jobs, change locations, change friends, or change yourself. Whatever it is, youre the one responsible for initiating the change. You started the ball rolling and its up to you to see it through.
Its also entirely possible that the change was done to you. Maybe your company reassigned to a different department or job, required you to relocate to a new area. Perhaps you were even forced out into early retirement or sidelined by a reduction in force.
What if someone you love dearly was forced into a change and suddenly, their change became your change. You left a place you loved, because someone you loved more was required to relocate and you moved with them.
Worse yet, what if someone you love decided they no longer loved you and dumped you? They needed to move on and you? Well, you were left behind. An extremely painful
However it started, change was, or is, underway. Regardless of its source, the real issue now is: how do you make the most of change? parting that adds to the significance and complexity of that particular change.
Making the most of change, however it began and even when it was self initiated, is a process that results from an initial decision.
Its a process, a journey.
The journey begins with a decision, involves a shift, and results in a change.
A shift in how you see, understand, and even in the way you do things. And if a relocation is involved it includes a change of where as well. William Bridges, noted,
Changes of any sort finally succeed or fail on whether
the people affected do things differently.
Let me share the journey Im traveling.
Actually, Im now 22 months into a change process and finally realize that what I originally perceived as no big deal was in fact, a very big deal. In reality, it wasnt just a minor change, it was a major transition and this time it is one that I initiated. Heres a key insight with broad application: underestimating the significance of a change effort will delay, and in some cases, ultimately undermine, the whole change process.
Late in 2011, I made a tough business decision. I bought out my business partner. Theres another whole story there of how we ended a business partnership, yet preserved our friendship. Its even more amazing how making that change positioned (and freed) her to follow and fulfill her dream. Just last month, Tiffany Applegate and her family relocated to Guatemala to assume the leadership of an orphanage there. Thats her story to tell and you can learn more on their Facebook page.
In his excellent book, Managing Transitions, William Bridges shared a brilliant insight on the difference between change and transition. Change is situational, transition is psychological.
In other words, change is an event, transition is our journey in response to any change.
Bridges continued, Transition is a three-phased process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the details of the new situation that the change brings about.
Transition starts with an ending and finishes with a new beginning.
The three phases are depicted in the diagram below:
It begins with ending which includes letting go of the old so you can ultimately embrace the new. For many, this is the most difficult part of the transition. They dont want to let go of the old.
I understand. Ive done it.
Taking on (or trying to) the new while still holding on to the security of the familiar is tough. Most likely, you just dont have the capacity to do it. Ultimately, you have to say no to some of the good things that youve done, maybe even for a long time, so you can say yes to even better things.
Unless, and until, you let go of the old, you cant embrace the new.
I found myself trying to take on new things – like the fabulous partnership I have with the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership. However, for a time, all I was doing was trying to take on the new without shedding the old. Slowly, I started saying no, I had to say no, so I could say yes to the new.
Saying no is hard, at least for me it is. Saying no meant helping some old clients find new sources of help. For me, saying no means staying focused on my sweet spot
According to Bridges, as the phase of endings and letting go closes, it leads to a neutral zone. The neutral zone is where innovation and repatterning occurs. Here, we find new ways to do things as well as new things to do. Its a time of great excitement and ultimately leads to the new beginnings.
The new beginning is what completes this transition and realizes the change you began some time earlier.
However, dont get too comfortable because the only thing that is certain is a new change will come and the new change will require another transition.
Legendary coach and remarkable leader, John Wooden said it well,
Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.
If you find yourself in the middle of a change, or leading a change initiative, learn to navigate the transition. Successfully managing transition is how you make the most of change.