Even for someone like me, a consultant who has developed a specialty in helping organizations and individuals navigate change, it’s been a tough year. The economic, medical and social tsunamis hitting our shores, have caused me to dig deep inside to help myself and others weather all of this.
During my education in the business of organizational development a required read was the book Transitions by William Bridges. It was an elegant redirection of how I interpreted what change meant. It fundamentally helped me in my work with others.
So I was very excited when I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal written by Bruce Feiler where, after experiencing several personal crises, he spent several years collecting stories about people who had gone through similar disruptions. His stories perfectly reflected Bridges’ descriptions of how we transition.
Simply put, Bridges’ book describes three stages that we go through when, after experiencing a change (which he defines as driven by an external event), we react to that change. He states that change will only be successful when we address the transitions that we inevitably go through as we evolve, shift, move and grow from what was to what can be.
What are the stages of transition?
The First stage: Endings
What a paradox! To begin with an end. Knowing and managing what you are losing is key in this stage. Whether it is work, health or personally related, getting clarity and acceptance is the heavy lift here.
The Second stage: Neutral Zone
We then go through an in-between time when the old is gone but the new isn’t fully in place. It is a mucky period and often appears a bit disorienting which can shake our faith somewhat. Clients tell me they feel confused and sometimes distressed It is however when the critical psychological realignments take place.
The Third stage: New Beginnings
This is where we start to express our new identity which may also mean adjustments to our values, attitudes and what we deem important. It’s our new purpose-driven phase. It’s an often exciting release of energy! We feel renewed and re-engaged.
Bruce’s poignant and inspirational article is a must read!
Feiler also just recently published a guide. “Life Is within the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age,”
This customized essay is from the guide:
Feiler’s Wall Street Journal article is in the July 11-12, 2020 issue.