The changes to come

I just sent out an email to a group that my business partner and I have been working with for a few months. It was a follow-up to a session we did with them called Leading Through Change.’ In it we talked about the difference between change (a measurable event) and transition (a less measurable process that unfolds as a result of change). These are topics I’ve been interested in for years now. There are hardly any places I’ve worked in the last decade where I haven’t spoken about them in one way or another.

The thing that’s been interesting for me over the years is the reality that we live in a state of constant change. Things are pretty much always in flux these days. Heck, they always have been, but we haven’t always been able to see it (or maybe experience it so directly). The last twenty-some years have brought about rapid increase in the spread of information. The last decade especially. The last five years especially. And it’s not like that’s going to slow down any time soon.

And then we have this past year. Change upon change upon change. How much can any of us take? Especially if we take seriously that the impact of a change — again, a measurable and discreet event — precipitates a transition.

Think of a transition as the psychological and emotional process that unfolds over time after a change. Small change? No big deal. In and out of transition in a matter of minutes, hours, maybe days. Big change? We’re talking weeks, months, maybe years. Think about the grief cycle as we know it1. This is a transition.

What happens when we have change upon change — transition upon transition? Especially when it’s at the scale of this past year — scale that none of us could have imagined just a little while ago. I suspect we have no idea yet.

This past year has been intense. And it’s not over. And when it’s over’, we’re going to face even more changes. Even more transitions.

Do we have what it takes? Do we have the understanding of our emotional selves that we need in order to navigate the kinds of responses we’re likely to have to all of this? Do we know enough about our traumas to be able to be with them as they come to the surface?

Do we know who we need to be in order to re-connect to our lives outside of a pandemic?

I find myself worried. For myself. My friends. Our community. The world.

What is the work we need to be doing today in order to get ourselves ready for this coming likelihood?

It’s a question I think that’s worth of us all. What if I started today? What might I need to do to prepare myself?

And who can I reach out to in order to not go through it alone.

We’re going to need each other more than ever.

  1. Well, the grief cycle as it’s been defined by Western’ psychology with all its linearity and clarity. Grief can be (and is) many things. Reducing it to this cycle doesn’t really give it its due. I’m using it here to make a simplified point.↩︎

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