“At the beginning of the year I was looking for a job,” shared a woman who was kind enough to talk with me about her transition. “I was in a miserable situation where I cried and hoped I’d get into a car accident on the way to work so I wouldn’t have to go that day.” What was going on? By her description she was in a highly charged, negative work environment. She felt irrelevant there despite a master’s degree and a heart ready-to-engage. These work conditions affected everything. Her job. Her relationship with her husband. Every facet of her life. Ever been there?
Another friend shared with me the particulars about her three transitions. “I just can’t do what I am doing anymore,” she said as a replay of the self-talk that characterized her feelings when she decided to begin.
While these stories are greatly excerpted I wonder if you sense any similarities? From my perch I hear each woman talking about getting to an end, a breaking point, before initiating a transition.
What are the prerequisites for transition? Should we adopt the model set out by these ladies? Full sprint until we reach a breaking point?
I hope not. My transition has taught me that at least two factors are worth keeping at the ready always…
Stay in touch with your ‘possible’ in whatever fashion you define possible. I remember an incredibly buoyant woman, a tenured marketing professional, who attended one of my Focus Groups. In her transition she was looking for work but her objective was broader than a paycheck. She sought re-alignment between her passions and her daily pursuits.
“I’ve been doing marketing forever. I like what I do. Am I passionate about it? No. And I need to rediscover that passion and align that with my skills. And it could be that I reaffirm that I want to stay in what I’m doing. That’s OK. But I have to find that again in myself in order to really be successful at job searching and ultimately at whatever position I get. And that’s a very uncomfortable place to be in. What am I going to do next?”
This woman committed full-time to her discovery. Terrific but not required. Can you give one hour a month to rekindle the sightlines to your passions? The real risk lies in extinguishing our passion’s voice. One hour?
Fail a little, often. “I wouldn’t do that,” remarked a friend as I detailed for her a rocky last few weeks. I was telling her about my grueling month leading up to the holidays. During that time I’d received a string of ‘no’s’ on one of my favorite projects. It was punishing and heartbreaking and oddly motivational.
Her remark? I took it to mean that rejection and failure just weren’t her bailiwick. Lucky for her she isn’t currently in transition.
Failure is a constant companion of transition. My new definition of transition is a decision to re-assess our underlying assumptions when faced with the need to change. The assumptions include our identity, our values, our capacity and our sense of purpose. At its core transition requires us to test out these new assumptions again and again. By its very nature, iterative.
Why fail a little? It builds up our capacity to reach. In the late 90’s I started a tech company that received venture capital financing. It was awesome. The less told story is that it wasn’t my first start-up. The start-up that preceded this swanky tech company failed. The earlier one had to shut down after two years. I think I cried for an entire weekend once the decision was made. Despondent? An understatement.
It took a while to regroup after that event but my ability to manage risk and failure was greatly expanded the next time I stepped to the plate. Can you find small ways to increase your fail tolerance?
In this season of resolutions and great beginnings can you commit yourself to these two guidelines? Search for your passion’s voice and fail, a little. My guess is that this is the only investment you’ll make in 2014 which is guaranteed to earn you exponential returns.
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