When I speak that we are all in transition, all the time, I did not realize that this idea would resonate so deeply with people. As a person who is also in transition – all the time – I see that it is time to elevate our conversation about this.

There are three realities of being in transition that I’d like to introduce.

1. Transition is not in a straight line.
2. Transition is filled with unsteadiness.
3. Transition is always hard, and most of the time healthy.

Transition is not in a straight line

I was talking with a friend the other day about the transition that she is in.

She described it as “three steps forward, two steps back.”

If you have ever known someone who is an entrepreneur, this is exactly what their work is like. It is all experimental. It is a process of searching and discovering what is needed to be known.

If you ever hear someone say that they pivoted, you can bet that they are stepping back to move forward.

Think of being in transition as being in a very dark, dense forest. Trying to navigate your way through, you take more sidesteps than forward ones. The image of a large pine tree has always helped me to see this reality. Think of that image as a map. We begin at the base, moving back and forth sideways, looking for a way forward. Gradually, we advance, and our sideway moves become less and less until we reach our goal.

I began to use the idea of transition points as a way to understand that our lives are filled with momentary decisions where we are either stepping forward or falling back.

The key is having a clear purpose in mind. A point in the future that you know you want to be. It does not mean that you won’t change your destination. It does mean that you are not just wandering, lost in the forest.

Transition is filled with unsteadiness.

There are far more technical words to describe unsteadiness. Words like disequilibrium, alienation, disorientation, and disconnection. Each provides an image of not being in sync, in tune, or having it together. Feeling this way is generally the first indication that we are in transition.

Our unsteadiness is a measure of our expectations. We expect to be steady, whole, consistent and stable. But we rarely are. In fact, if we were all those things, our lives would be rather boring.

Think about going to a sports event. What makes it interesting is not knowing the outcome. Each time down the field or the court presents an opportunity for scoring. But we don’t know. The outcome of it is in doubt. This is also true of our lives in transition. We know things are changing, but we don’t know where it is taking us. Maybe it is to a better place or a worse one. We don’t know. So, we have to get in the game and face the unsteadiness of the transition.

The key to facing unsteady transitions is to be clear about who we are and what we believe. For every transition point, there is a moment of decision, based upon what we desire and value. The clearer we are, the more likely we will choose a direction that will increase our alignment as persons of impact.

Transition is always hard, and most of the time healthy.

The reality that we are always in transition, that our transitions are never in a straight line and that our transitions are always accompanied by unsteadiness means that life is hard. The challenge is to find the good in the change. Again, this is a matter of perspective based upon our values and sense of purpose.

In the midst of the hardness, we need to take the long view. If we get too caught up in the hardness of every moment, we’ll lose our way. We’ll allow ourselves to get beat down.

However, if we face the hardness with determination and resiliency, then we can find the good. When we can see the good, we can find how the transition is healthy for us.

One way to look at hardness is to acknowledge that it clarifies what is important to us. We may have a set of core values. But until those values are put to the test, we really don’t know if they are the values we truly want at the center of our lives.

The key to living in the midst of a hard transition is never to give up.

I wrote the Circle of Impact Challenge for this purpose.

Regardless of who you believe you are,
Or what challenges you have experienced in life,
Or what obstacles you face right now,
Never stop believing
That you can be a person of impact
Who can make a difference that matters.

The Three Realities

Our transitions challenge us to be our best. When we see these three realities as the challenge, then we know what we face. In talking with people about their transitions, it is not knowing what they face which seems to be the most difficult part. For this reason, the Circle of Impact is a guide for living in the midst of the transitions that we face every day.

I’m preparing a new e-book, The Transition Experience, that will be released soon. It will be free to those who sign up for my newsletter.

Dr. Ed Brenegar is a Leader for Leaders working with individuals, their teams, organizations and communities who find themselves at a point of transition. Ed has developed an innovative leadership model called, Circle of Impact, that clarifies what the impact of their life or the work of their organization can be. From this perspective, impact is the change that makes a difference that matters. Ed. for over 30 years, has inspired and equipped people and organizations to practice this fresh understanding of leadership. All leadership begins with personal initiative to create impact that makes a difference that matters. Everyone within an organization or a community can, therefore, practice leadership initiative. In so doing, they turn what were once leadership-starved organizations into leader-rich cultures that make a difference that matters.

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