Life is full of transitions. They come in business, times of personal growth, relationships, and within organizations. Transition can be defined as the moving from one place, situation, or relationship into another. And for most, this can be a tremendously difficult time.
If you happen to be a mother, or stood by a woman giving birth, you will remember the birth stage of transition quite clearly. This last phase of delivery could be described with words like…
Transitions also carry those same characteristics. As we find ourselves leaving a position, location, or relationship, there is a letting go of the old. It can be a time of sorrow as the old begins to fade away. This period can be marked with emotional turmoil as we say goodbye to those things which we once held dear.
But it is also a time of new beginnings, a fresh start that brings excitement and adventure. As we envision the next phase on the horizon, our hopes begin to soar and new possibilities begin to emerge. We ride the roller coaster of emotional highs and lows.
Transitions remind me of crossing a no-mans land. When Paul and I traveled to the historic city of Petra, we started in Israel and crossed the border into Jordan. As we left the security gate of Israel and our tour guide, we had to walk about 100 yards before crossing into Jordan. It was strange. No guards. No nationality. We were literally between two counties. It was reassuring to finally pass through the border gates into Jordan and realize we had arrived.
That’s transition. A no-mans land between two states. The old is not gone, but the new has not yet arrived. Neither one is fully operating. The result can leave a person with a lot of uncertainty.
Since transition is such a common and perplexing part of life, how can we best handle it? Here are my suggestions for traversing this no-mans land of transition:
#1 Evaluate what will be left behind and what will continue as part of your life. Transitions are the time to weigh what part of our lives are truly necessary and beneficial versus what is expendable. T
hose things that remain the same offer stability during the new phase. Some parts of your life will shift according to your position, relationship, or location. Relationships may change because of a promotion. Friendships that were close may now have to stretch across thousands of miles. What do you want to hold onto and what will you let go?
#2 Be willing to release the old to embrace the new. I personally think this is the most difficult part, because of the emotional attachment and memories associated with the past. It may come down to simply making a decision. What can I release and leave behind? You may find yourself wrestling with a load of guilt, but allow yourself the freedom to embrace the next chapter of life.
#3 Discuss your change with those who might be affected. Be honest and sincere. Change will impact you, but more than likely your new position will affect others close to you. Plan ahead about how to bridge any gaps and diffuse any potential confusion. Discuss the positives and consider the negatives and how they might be diminished.
#4 Consider the open doors before you and what lies beyond. What are the possibilities? How will this new stage of life reward you? What are the benefits? Try to anticipate your reactions as new patterns, experiences, and associations begin to form. Life is an adventure…embrace it!
# 5 Stay flexible. In the midst of the ebb and flow of transition, try to find your moorings, but remain flexible. A boat tied to the dock rises and falls with the tide, but it is attached to a solid foundation. As for me, I place my faith in the one who never changes. God is the one fixed element in my life that is my anchor. As I sense the old patterns slipping away, I am determined not to allow fear to overwhelm me.
#6 Be patient. Easier said than done! We always look for the shortcut, but often there is just a long path meandering before us. As you experience a roller-coaster range of emotions, struggle with the physical tasks, and plot a new course forward, give yourself permission to rest. If you are like me, I am always wanting it done yesterday, and get frustrated whenever my timetable is not met. With this move to South Carolina, I face a garage full of bins and boxes. I must tell myself that it is OK to take a break and the unpacking, organizing, and decorating will eventually get done.
#7 Enjoy the journey. Life is a journey with many stops and a few unexpected side trips. The best we can do is to find peace through God and celebrate each and every step along the way. Take full advantage of the perks!
Transitions characterize our lives. Don’t run from change, but learn how to appreciate and use it to your best advantage. For many, it is right around the corner.
Change is never easy. With the ups and downs, shifting boundaries, and new adaptations, change can be synonymous with upheaval!
In my last post, From Novel to Normal: The Five Stages of Change, we examined the five different growth steps that accompany any change. From drawing board to the final implementation, I described each of these five transitional phases and their place in the process.
With every phase of change, there is a personality that seems to thrive at any given point. Some prefer the Dreamer stage. Others flourish during the Development phase. And still many prefer the Dedicate segment.
For any given person, their excitement is highest during one stage. They may be the leader, a contributing manager, or even a faithful follower, but each person will demonstrate a preference corresponding to their personal makeup. When change is passing through their favorite phase, the person thrives. Their energy level is highest and their focus is greatest. They not only understand that step, but they become a champion for it. They are in the groove and flourish.
Conversely, when someone finds they are in one of the other phases that are not their strength, their energy level diminishes. They become disinterested or even sluggish in response. This is not an excuse for any slowdown in behavior. Rather, it is an explanation why people respond more positively during one specific juncture of change.
Now, let’s examine the Five Stages of Change and their corresponding champions.
The Five Personalities of Change
Dreamer…The Dreamer excels during the Dream stage. He or she is the visionary, the conceptualist, the one who generates an idea. She is the inventor…the instigator. He is the designer.
CEO’s envision change, but they rarely get their hands dirty carrying it out. That task falls to others to form and implement.
Inventors concoct a new idea, but then it takes time and energy to develop it. Pastors picture their congregation doubling in size over the next two years through outreach. But the program, the training, and evangelistic effort still need tracks to run on. This is where the idea stage ends and the Design phase begins.
Designer…The Designer shines once the original concept is communicated. She can put flesh on the original idea. The Designer is the one who will fashion the prototype and give it its maiden flight. He or she knows how to take the vision and make it a reality. Once she achieves initial success, it is time to pass it along to the next champion.
Developer…The Developer serves a twofold purpose. First, he or she works the bugs out of the system. Where the Designer got the project up and going, the Developer takes it to the next level and refines how it functions. She is the one who identifies the flaws and weaknesses and perfects the design. The change matures.
The second purpose of the Developer is to begin to market the merits of the change. Up to this point, it may have been hidden from the general population. But now, the hints of its existence become known. The Developer may also launch a marketing campaign touting the benefits of the upcoming transformation. Marketing is the key at this stage.
Distributor…The Distributor functions best during the Distribute stage. This occurs once the change is ready to be incorporated into widespread use. By now, the flaws have been eliminated. When the new idea is released, the Distributor has little patience for kinks in the system. They anticipate smooth sailing and are in a prime position to implement it. The Distributor expects a trouble-free experience.
Dedicated…The Dedicated are most responsive during the Dedicate stage. They devote themselves to the product and become its greatest supporter. These are the ones who will carry the change into long-term usage.
The Dedicated will not handle any flaws or discrepancies in the design. It must be in final working order.
The new idea must have a previous track record of success before it reaches this last phase. The Dedicated person will establish the novel idea in the marketplace.
People react to change according to their personality, maturity, and experiences. Each one identifies, participates, and feels more comfortable during one of the five stages of change. Discover your change personality and flourish!
Change begins with a vision, but then takes time and hard work to become a viable and useful entity. To weave the new into the fabric of the culture, the novel idea must follow several stages of change. Any new idea needs more than just a visionary before it finds success.
5 Stages of Change
From my studies and experience, I have identified 5 separate phases which take a new concept from the drawing board to a final product. Each phase exhibits different characteristics. I call them the 5 Stages of Change
Dream…The very first step begins with a conceptualization of an idea. It may be a new technological advance or maybe a restructuring in an organization. This initial step requires someone who has a vision, a man or woman who foresees the need and can imagine the solution.
Design…The next step is to take the original thought and give it legs. This is where the novel idea takes shape and becomes practical. It may be a prototype or the trial run to determine if it will work. Many inventions fail this stage and never go on to fruition and maturity. Faulty concepts die an ugly death. This stage determines whether the idea actually has merit or if it is only an alluring vision. The proposed change is authenticated.
Develop….The third stage develops the concept. The bugs are worked out. The idea is perfected and adapted to its final use. This is also the stage where the change is promoted to a larger audience and gains greater appeal.
Distribute…In this phase, the change gets incorporated into a larger body of users. The trial period is over and it becomes available for widespread usage. At this stage, the flaws have been eliminated and it is in its final, practical form.
Dedicate…This is the long-term maintenance phase. The change has shown its merits. It is now finding champions who tout its wonders and it takes on a life of its own. Many support the novel idea and it finds followers who are devoted to its advantages. The novel becomes normal.
An innovative idea must go through all five stages to become established in an industry, organization, or culture. Take the electric light bulb as an example.
The Dream stage began in 1802 when Humphry Davy invented the first electric light. He experimented with an electric battery that connected wires to a piece of carbon. The carbon glowed, producing light and he called it the Electric Arc lamp. It produced light, but not for long and wasn’t practical.
The Design phase took place over several decades with various inventors toying with different variations on the original. In 1840, British scientist Warren de la Rue enclosed a coiled platinum filament in a vacuum tube, but it was impractical for commercial use. In 1850, a physicist named Joseph Wilson Swan created a “light bulb” by enclosing carbonized paper filaments in a vacuum glass bulb. Woodward and Evans attempted to commercialize their lamp using carbon rods and enclosed nitrogen but were unsuccessful. They eventually sold their patent to Edison in 1879.
The Development stage was realized by Edison finally produced a commercially practical incandescent light in 1879. His version outdid the earlier ones because Edison used a more effective incandescent material, a higher vacuum, and a high resistance which made it economically viable. The team discovered that a carbonized bamboo filament could last over 1200 hours.
The Distribute phase was marked by commercially manufactured light bulbs available to the public. In 1880, Edison Electric Light Company began selling its light bulbs to the masses.
The final stage, the Dedicate stage, took place in 1906. The General Electric Company patented a method using tungsten filaments. Edison knew tungsten was the best filament, but in his day technology prohibited the production. The rest is history.
The evolution of the light bulb took over 100 years. From a vision, through design and enhancement, and finally mass usage, humanity can now flip a switch and light up a room.
Begin with a vision and end with a victory. It is these five steps that follow any new idea from inception into practical implementation.
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
William Arthur Ward
Change is inevitable. Seasons of life come and go and days pass quickly. Nothing remains the same forever. How we handle the changes that come our way says a lot about our flexibility, grace, and maturity.
Many respond positively to change (see my post 5 Advantages to Change). However, some react negatively for various reasons. People respond out of fear.They interpret change as a personal threat. The thought of having to adapt to different standards, environment, or circumstances can throw a normally sane person into a frenzied tizzy.
In the midst of the upheaval and shuffling, people fight the coming alterations. The following are seven reasons why people resist changing:
Misunderstanding. Every argument hastwo sides. One disagrees with the other and opposes their viewpoint. Or perhaps one segment of the population was not consulted as to their opinions. Open communication is the key and that takes an honest, heartfelt conversation.
Pride. Some people respond out of a need to control. Their motivation is selfish…”I want to be in charge! We must do it my way.” Instead of participating in a constructive ongoing debate, they dig in their heels in a stubborn battle of the will. This type of behavior is an obstacle to healthy progress.
Loss of status or position. Change can threaten job security. Many perceive their role will be eliminated or reduced. Restructuring an organization topples the current hierarchy and downsizing could mean a loss of position. As the transformation takes place, the reshuffling of responsibilities might mean getting squeezed out of position.
Fear of the unknown. This is probably the #1 reason people resist change. The unknown is scary. Some ask…”What will it be like? Will I like it?” Can I handle the changes? Most are willing to move forward only when they perceive the risk is greater to stay the course.
Peer Pressure.How do friends and colleagues perceive the upcoming changes? It is difficult to stand against peer pressure all on your own. How much easier to go with the flow! But going along to get along is a weak argument for fighting against change. Because we live in an era when social media commentary is equated with truth, it is important to listen to the facts before forming an opinion.
Fear of Failure. Many fear that they will not be able to adapt to the new culture or position. They lack confidence in the new structure or in their personal ability to perform. They are concerned with learning new skills and are apprehensive about transitioning into a new paradigm.
Tradition.“What was wrong with the old way?” many ask. Their loyalty to the people, procedures, and technology of the past is commendable. But…clinging to the old ways can bog down an organization and render it obsolete. Not all change is a temporary fad. It may be the only pathway to the future.
One thing you can count on in this life…change is coming. How will you handle it?
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. George Bernard Shaw
Change is inevitable. Whether you like it or not, today’s trends and practices will go the way of the dinosaurs. Just look at the digital revolution that has taken place over the last 50 years. I remember when computers filled a room. Now we wear them on our wrists.
The status quo is always morphing, moving forward with new advances in every area of life. Change spearheads progress and is the champion of innovation.
So, why do we fight it? Some vehemently resist the new, but it often takes less energy to embrace it. Yes, it is true that not every novelty is positive, but even those innovations that bring real transformation are met with resistance.
As we begin to look at the dynamics of change, let’s first look at several advantages that accompany it.
5 Advantages of Change
The process of evolving from one condition into another carries many pluses. Here is my take on the benefits in the process.
#1 Change Removes Stagnation. It breaks up the routine and smashes the monotony of everyday life. Change lifts you or your organization out of a rut. When performance drops, attitudes plummet, and the general demeanor goes sour, it is time to depart from the old ways and plot a course towards the new.
#2 Change Keeps You Relevant. An antiquated system ensures your organization is on a pathway to failure. There are constant shifting trends within fields of study and technology. Change is an evolution of ideas that merit attention.
Age does not determine how relevant you or your organization are. Out-of-date mindsets and behavioral patterns lock you into the past. I have known people in their twenties that were stuck in the obsolete. And I have met others in their eighties that were keeping abreast of the latest trends.
#3 Change is a Growth Opportunity. Rising to the challenges that accompany change is one way to guarantee development. Growth comes from responding with increased flexibility, learning a different set of skills, or walking new pathways. As you experience more, you discover who you really are.
#4 Change Reveals Your Character. Who are you? What lies just beneath the surface waiting for the opportune time to emerge? The best way to discover what is really within is to go through the transformation that change brings. Not only will it expose the strengths, but it will also reveal the weaknesses. The ability to adapt, create, and learn gets magnified during these times.
#5 Change Presents New Opportunities. Robert Frost penned these words in his poem ” The Road Not Taken”
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
New opportunities appear like a fork in the road. They demand a flexible, discerning person or organization to recognize them. Often, they are the path less taken because they are not well paved. Opportunities come disguised as hard work. In order to enjoy the benefits, you must clear the way through diligence and elbow grease.
Change challenges even the most adventurous of us, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Innovation is here to stay…at least until it changes.
Leaders value growth. They are constantly sharpening their skills in a variety of areas…organizational development, vision, goal-setting, team building, and especially relationships. Leaders are learners.
My husband and I attend the Global Leadership Summit every August. GLS is an international meeting simulcast across the world. Every year it impacts over 260,000 leaders. If you are unfamiliar with the summit, it consists of two days packed with best-selling authors, CEO’s, and renowned leaders from across the globe. From pastors, to ministry leaders, corporate heads, and politicians, the GLS offers inspiration and information to take you to the next level of leadership.
I recommend that any growing leader attend the GLS. But you don’t have to wait until August 2016. I can offer you an alternative. The next best thing.
GLSnext is a new App available on both Google Play for android devices and iTunes for Apple products. And here is the best news…
GLSnext is free!
GLSnext is available to anyone, even if you have never attended a Global Leadership Summit. The app is an opportunity to learn from world-class leaders like Bill Hybels, John Maxwell, Patrick Lencioni, Melinda Gates, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and Dr. Henry Cloud.
The official GLSnext app presents videos from past summit faculty, a leadership library at your fingertips. With the GLSnext app you can instantly watch as many leadership videos as you want, as often as you want, anytime you want.
The categories include Church Leadership, Interpersonal Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Self Leadership, and Visionary Leadership. As of this post, sixty-two faculty members contribute to the videos. The videos range from short segments of a few minutes to a full presentation at the summit. Great for on the go, waiting at the doctor’s office, driving your car, or having a cup of coffee!
The GLSnext features include:
Instant access to hundreds of leadership training videos from your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Create and share your own custom playlists with friends and colleagues.
The 6 by 6 Tool to accomplish your most important leadership goals with 6×6 goal management tool.
Browse videos by keyword, topic, speaker and category.
Bookmark and save your favorite videos to reference back to at a future date.
This year there is a new option…GLSnext Premium. You get complete access to high-impact full session videos from the latest two years of The Global Leadership Summit. 2016 sessions will be coming in September. And it’s only $99, less than the admission for one summit.
Feed your leadership potential with top-notch teaching. Get a taste for the Global Leadership Summit and grow to the next level of leadership.
Download the GLSnext App and share it with friends and fellow leaders.