Many of the organizations I work with are going through major transitions right now. Some are growing and expanding while others are experiencing unprecedented contraction. The change seems to be showing up in a couple of very different ways.
Some folks are in mini-transition where they are gaining clarity around their life’s work; like an update of what has been happening in their lives over the past several years. These folks find themselves doing a new job, or on a new team, or maybe even relocating for an opportunity. It is a change they may or may not have been asking for, but alas they find themselves with some new opportunities ahead. While significant, and full of emotion, these mini-transitions keep the person on a similar life trajectory.
Then there are the life-impacting transitions where full-on change is happening in your life. Your circumstances are shifting entirely and rocking your entire world!
You have lost your job, through no fault of your own.
You have decided to retire and to give your talents to a local non-profit who really needs your leadership.
Your spouse has served you divorce papers after 25 years of marriage.
Or you experience the loss of a child.
Real loss. Devastating loss. The kind of loss that makes life seem like there is no way out.
Frederick Hudson writes, “…many people think of transitions [like this] as a penalty box, a place for losers, for quitters and weaklings-people who can’t take the heat, victims who thrive on self-pity and helplessness.” Many will seek to blame others; a bad boss, a spouse, or more likely God.
When you lose something you love, a job or a person it can seem like life itself is not worth living. Hudson writes, “the acceptance of an ending sounds like termination, humiliation, resignation, and defeat.”
However deep or devastating your transition, please take heart. However disorientating the change you are encountering, this experience is almost always a road to some kind of regenerative growth of you as a person and a discovery of some new and exciting you that is being created.
You really are a butterfly emerging from a cocoon…eventually.
But for now, it might feel like you are a caterpillar who just wants go into the basement, drink beer, and cry!
What to be aware of is how you are experiencing your transformation. Think of it as “The Meantime.”
When I was a kid, my mom used to talk a lot about the meantime. It was always mentioned as a time preparation as a transition was coming. It would go something like this:
“Scott your father will be home in about an hour and in the MEANTIME you better get your room picked up.”
“Scott you have basketball practice tomorrow morning and in the MEANTIME you better get your gym bag packed.”
“Eric (my brother) you have your piano lesson tonight, in the MEANTIME you better get practicing.”
As I reflect back when I was a kid the MEANTIME was always a time of storming. You see, I knew dad would be home in an hour, but a kid could play a lot of basketball in 60 minutes. Who in their right mind wants to stop playing ball and clean up there room?
The storm would begin to brew.
My mom would remind me. “You better get on it now. You can play ball when your room is done, but in the MEANTIME you better get moving."
After the second request to clean my room, she would invoke my middle name.
The pressure would rise with dad’s presence looming on the horizon. The stormy transition was fast approaching.
We all experience stormy space in our meantime; the space that exists between “how nice it was before the transition” and “what it will be like when the transition is over.”
The question I have been asking myself a lot lately is, “When the meantime comes, how do I show up?”
Leaders, we need to be very aware of how we are showing up during times of transition. We need to ask ourselves what our behavior was like during the stormy transition. Are my actions those of a self-centered protectionist?
Am I becoming so focused on my own unfortunate circumstances that I am missing out on key relationships that could be a vehicle to restore my healing? Can I remain calm and have some clear thinking, vision, and self-introspection as events unfold around me?
Many of you are experiencing change and chaos going like never before. So, over the next several weeks I am going to write about going through these changes with skill and grace. Next week, I’m going to dive deeper in how to work through stormy transitions such as grief and loss.
I hope you enjoy the support. If you know of someone going through transition, why not send them the blog and encourage them to sign up. I would greatly appreciate it.