Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #21
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, Sun shining on white foothills
Our lives unfold in an alternating rhythm of expansion and contraction, change and stability. In human life, as in the rest of nature, change accumulates slowly and almost invisibly until it is made manifest in the sudden form of fledging out or thawing or leaf-fall. It is the transition process … that we must understand.
– William Bridges
Over the past several years I’ve experienced several significant transitions in my life, retiring from my first corporate career, exploring new ways to generate income, watching our four sons make their own way in the world, and seeing my parents respond to changes in their lives in their early eighties. I now appreciate the rhythm and process of transition that William Bridges describes in his book, Transitions: Making Sense Of Life's Changes, as being “composed of an ending, a neutral zone, and a new beginning.
A useful analogy for me of the transition process is depicted in these images navigating the Oxford canal. Traveling along the canal we’d reach the end of a stretch and need to pause while we prepared to enter the lock. We had to let go of our memories and view of that part of the country as we entered the lock. Bridges describes the ending and letting go process as including steps of disengagement, dismantling, dis-identification, disenchantment, and often disorientation. It can be disturbing as what I recall of the previous view is often an idealized memory of how good things were.
The neutral zone is also where new growth first takes shape and emerges, and it is important to allow experimentation and discovery to take place with an open curiosity.
By accepting where we are, sorting through what’s important to us, and allowing new growth to take shape and emerge, we set the stage for our new beginning.
We can go through many transitions in our lifetimes. We spend the first twenty to thirty years of our lives learning, developing, and choosing who we want to be, and what we want to do as adults in Growing Up, the First Act of our Lives.
We then transition to the Second Act of our Lives, where we pursue and master our profession(s), career(s), and, for many people, raising families for the next thirty to forty years. As we retire, we step through the doorway entering into the Third Act of our lives, which can last for twenty to thirty years or more!
We make transitions more smoothly by focusing on four foundational elements that satisfy our needs to feel safe, connected, and respected by ourselves and others (family and friends, community and those we work with). These elements are:
- Operating from a Growth Mindset;
- Pursuing what matters to us as a purpose;
- Engaging with others in a way that provide us with a sense of attention, importance, appreciation, being depended upon, and pride;
- Establishing new structure and scaffolding with communities and practices that support us in becoming who we want to be, and in doing what we want to do.
I work with executives and professionals to create better futures, by navigating through transitions and succession. To learn more visit here.
To receive Retirement: Making the Transition to the Third Act of Life, visit here.
Let’s create a better future today!