The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. ~ Socrates
Socrates makes it sound easy to make change happen. For a less significant change, the simplicity of Socrates’ statement holds true for implementation. Other change is monumental and becomes a milestone moment in our lives. These milestones build our experiential perspective. We often think of our experience to be focused on our senses of hearing, taste, touch, sight, and smell, but what about our hearts and minds? In a book by William and Susan Bridges, Managing Transitions, they speak about how we deal with change through transformation.
Change is situational, like a new CEO, the reorganization of roles on a team, and new technology. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological; it is a three-phase process people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the details of the new situation that the change brings about. (1)
In most cases, the rate at which change and transition take place are not the same. Change can be fast, like ripping off a bandage. A transition takes time. In many cases, the change is out of our control. An example would be the restructuring of an organization. These transitions hit the emotional state of our hearts and minds.
In the model revealed by Williams’ model, they uncover three stages. They are:
Ending, Losing, and Letting Go.
The Neutral Zone.
The New Beginning.
Ending, Losing, and Letting Go
The first stage is where our emotions come out. Anger, fear, surprise, sadness . . . As leaders, when we see others dealing with the transition, reach out to them. Acknowledge their presence and help them feel connected. Quite often, people feel alone when going through change. Acknowledge their feelings and encourage them to accept the new reality. Acceptance is the first step to change. Leaning on the positives can help move them through Ending, Losing, and Letting Go.
The Neutral Zone
The Neutral Zone is the stage that is highlighted by finding a path. It’s our search period where we may feel lost.
The New Beginning
Finally, we progress into the stage where our energy begins to soar again. We have identified a path, and we are walking it with a new perspective. As we exit this phase, it’s essential to recognize the learning and behavior, which now is part of your experiential perspective.
As I reflect on one of my perspective changing transitions, I find these stages to be relevant. The transition I think about most is losing my job. Initially, I was hurt; then, many feelings came through. It took time to get through stages 2 and 3. Now I carry the experiential perspective with me forever. Through your next change experience, recognize that change triggers a transition and that a transition is often much longer in the timeline than the change.
Share your transition battle scars with others. As always, I encourage that you give feedback and thoughts on this content. An interactive audience enables learning for us all.
(1) Bridges, William| Bridges, Susan. (1991, 2003, 2009, 2017). Managing Transitions. Boston: Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
1 thought on “Change and Transition”
Thank you for this timely blog. One of the things that stick out to me is the premise around less significant change, and monumental change as the rest of the blog builds upon that.
I think as people who want to help others, personally, and as leaders, we have to consider that how change is digested is relative. To use your example, organizational change for most is probably monumental. Still, for some, they will see it as outside of their circle of control and thus attributable to the serenity prayer. 🙂
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
That said, I take your point and would only add that we must allow ourselves to feel how we are accepting and moving through change (heightened awareness) and lead with empathy to help others when needed.