Tag Archives: women’s transition

Leaving and Leading

By this time – many years into solid research on transitioning – one might imagine that I’ve learned all there is to know about the topic.  I was reminded after my recent trip to San Francisco of how untrue this line of thinking really is.  I am happy to report that I returned from California dry-eyed and excited. For those who missed Remarkable Choices, I spent three-weeks in San Francisco this summer on a writing vacation. My goal was to work unimpeded on my second book. I am happy to report that by the time I checked in for my return flight, I had an entire manuscript drafted, from introduction to final chapter.

That said, the new manuscript isn’t the entire story. The trip yielded something even more special, a broader perspective on my work. This expansion starts in a place with which we are all familiar, a decision to leave.

Early Morning View

We leave all sorts of things. We leave in big and small ways. We leave family gatherings and political rallies and baseball games. We leave marriages and employers and friendships. We leave one opportunity for another more promising one. We leave anger and guilt and self-doubt for hope.

When do we leave ourselves?

Another Cafe, Pine St, San Francisco, CA

What a question, right?

San Francisco brought this question to light for me.

An Approach

Those who know me personally know that I am a process wonk. Therefore it shouldn’t surprise anyone that process was on my mind as I readied myself for the trip. Ok, it wasn’t until I was on the airplane heading west that I created a plan. But it was an important step.

Would I follow the same writing process I used with my first book? Or try something new? In the intervening years since my first book was published, a friend gave me a great book that talked about a radically different approach to story development than the one I had used earlier.  I toyed with adopting it but I was hesitant. The last thing I wanted to do was waste my time fooling around with something that would be unproductive. But what about taking a creative risk? What might be possible under that scenario?

I settled on the unproven new approach. The process had three basic steps: to create a one page description of the book’s theme; to develop a detailed chapter outline; and then, and only then, to write chapters.

In spite of my hesitation, the new process proved to be surprisingly useful.

Chinatown, San Francisco, CA

 

A Broader View of My Work

After nearly seven years writing, advocating and teaching about transition, it was very humbling to sit down and attempt to articulate a one page theme. I spent days on this. I edited and re-edited. I walked the hills of San Francisco when I got stuck. I started to get concerned that it was taking too much time. How would I make progress if I spent all my time on the earliest step?  Here is what emerged from my inelegant labors:

My work is about choice or the difficulty many of us have – including me – in making significant choices or major life decisions.  I was – after all – introduced to transition thanks to a personal calamity that left me struggling with a choice of what to do next.

By focusing on choice, I realized that transition is not an end in-and-of itself.  Transition is a process that enables growth. Our own growth. Nothing requires us to transition. It is a choice we make. We choose to grow.

We encounter many many invitations for growth over the course of our lives. Oddly, we ignore most of them. In fact, we live in a growth-phobic society. Our social norms teach us to look the other way, tamp down or create distractions when faced with an opportunity to grow. These norms leave us busy – sometimes exhausted – but no further from a growth perspective.

Once we recognize the opportunity for growth and the capacity for growth that transition offers, we learn that the secret sauce lies in ‘how we respond’ to all of this. Our progress forward relies heavily on our ability to rewire our response to a transition’s trigger or the barriers and emotions that accompany them.

Triggers or the circumstances that lead us to choose growth vary widely. Divorce, death, job loss, marriage, the birth of another child, gender re-assignment surgery or a recognition that something isn’t quite right. Transition doesn’t concern itself with differences among triggers. The common denominator in all of this is a shift, a shift in what holds value and meaning to us. The shift occurs when we re-examine our assumptions about who we are and how we make meaning in the world.

On a practical level growth is simple: we need to turn up the volume on those things that hold value and meaning to us. These things can be anything on the planet as long as they engage us at the core. By giving voice to these things that matter to us, we allow ourselves to see the path forward in an entirely new way. With this as a ballast, all of a sudden options that were hidden from us come into full view.

What About Leaving and Leading?

When most of us think about transition, we think it involves leaving something. Leaving a professional identity or a marriage or a dysfunctional familial relationship. San Francisco taught me that this departure thinking is incorrect.

Transition and growth are about leading with who we are….ourselves…in all the circumstances of our lives. Not just at work. Not only on the playground or in the kitchen or with a sibling or a dear friend. Leading with you. Your beliefs. Everywhere. Even if this involves a struggle to recalibrate who we are thanks to a previously unrecognized departure from ourselves.

This type of leading may involve leaving but it doesn’t have too.

I remember one very funny exchange I had with the CEO of a women’s fashion house that asked me to talk at their annual meeting. “Will they all leave?’ asked the CEO in a concerned tone when he learned that the my topic would be transition. I replied, “If I do my job correctly, they will bring more of who they are to the job. The exact opposite of leaving.”

If we decouple leading with leaving, transition and growth become universally available.  Through this lens, transition cannot get waylaid by the mortgage or a un-supportive boss or an overbearing family.

We get to decide how we show up every day. You don’t need to leave to lead in this way.

The converse isn’t as kind. You can leave – repeatedly – and never make a dent in transition nor growth. You will miss all of the benefits of transition and growth if you leave something but do not use your departure as an opportunity to bring up the volume on those things that hold value or meaning to you.

Leaving is often hard. Imagine if it yields nothing related to our own growth….

Leading Forward

Transition has allowed me to grow in ways I never imagined. I now operate with a connectedness to who I am that I never knew was missing and yet I can honestly say that it completes me like nothing else ever has. It is an awakening that makes me feel as if I am breathing from every pore on my body. Energetic. Joyful. Free.

May you see opportunities to add who you are to every moment that you are alive. May you respond to the invitation for growth with an open heart and begin a remarkable journey whose destination while unknown is irreplaceable. May you realize that you can have all these things by simply leading with who you are. Today.

 

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Want to talk ‘live’ about transition and growth? There are two ways you can join me for informal chats. For those in and around Boston, join me at a free drop-in series In Transition at the Winchester Public Library on the second Thursday of every month from 7-8:30 pm. Free coffee and refreshments are served. Our kick off for this season is Thursday, September 11th! Hope to see you there.

For those unable to join in person, watch for my inaugural podcast, Destination Unknown, starting this fall. Will you join me to talk about your transition? I am scheduling guests now for twelve-minute appearances. Email me if you are interested. I’d love to add your voice to our conversation. linda@womenandtransition.com.

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Copyright © 2018 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

It struck me this morning as I reviewed my shopping list for tomorrow’s feast that I’ve learned a thing or two about Thanksgiving.  It isn’t hidden in my special recipe for Bourbon Sweet Potatoes.  Nor is it found in the holiday meal preparation guide that I’ve read and re-read in the Food Section of the New York Times. It is found in the work that I do everyday, work that more and more looks and feels like a ‘how to’ guide for navigating the emotions our lives.

Tomorrow when you reach across the table to pass the cranberry sauce, I hope you keep in mind two important perspectives from our work together in transition. Continue reading

Reframing Our Decisions

This morning as I was walking our dog I found a painted rock by the side of the road. It had an inscription that read, Think Outside the Box.  The unexpected treasure is a part of our town’s kindness project. Up until this chance encounter I didn’t really ‘get’ the program. Now, I have a different opinion. I smiled brightly when I found the rock. The inscription felt as if it was meant only for me. Yes, outside the box is a place I inhabit comfortably. I’ve been amazed at the goodness I’ve met there. What awaits you outside of the box? Continue reading

How to Move Forward….II

One day I had two back-to-back interviews that ended with the interviewees asking me roughly the same question. It went something like, ‘I know where I’m at isn’t right, but I am not really sure what I want to do next.”  I found it incredibly interesting because the circumstances that brought these two women to the same question couldn’t have been more different. One was regrouping thanks to a harsh corporate experience and the other was challenged by an empty-nest. This coincidence got me thinking that their experiences didn’t differ all that much from my own.  After all, I arrived at transition with a deep belief that something more was possible for me. But what?  How do we move forward from moments like these? Continue reading

The Gift of Knowing Ourselves

“I’m not ready,” said Margaret.  We were having coffee in a quirky independent coffee shop and talking about her job search.  The search hadn’t really started, it was simply brewing on her ‘to do’ list.  Margaret is a tour de force locally.  She is a newly divorced woman, the parent of two high-school aged children and the volunteer chair of a group that established a multi-million dollar land trust in a neighboring town.  This little endeavor is complete with a working organic farm and an impressive educational center.  Not ready?  How can this type of person not be ready?

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Voice Interrupted

I heard Hillary Clinton’s voice for the first time last weekend – yes, days after the surprising and heartbreaking outcome of the 2016 Election.  I heard it in Kate McKinnon’s moving rendition of Len Cohen’s Hallelujah on Saturday Night Live.  ‘How could this be?’  You might ask.  Weren’t we all party to a near continuous stream of voices from both candidates over the past months?   Even with all of that volume I was struck with the weight of the words conveyed by McKinnon.  It reminded me of the importance of voice, one of transition’s most critical tools.  Did we hear Hillary’s voice?  Do we hear yours? Continue reading

Moving Forward

“Push off into the middle of the river,” intones a line from a poem featured in Hopi Elder Speaks.  A friend sent it to me.  She is a powerful force whom I’ve met through my work with women and transition.  An octogenarian, she leads a global not-for-profit, participates in several wisdom networks and is in a constant state of organizational prep for events, issues and causes that are important to her.  I met with her to gain some knowledge about how to architect what today looks like an impossible task.  My quest?  I’d like to educate women everywhere about the importance of transitioning.  My new friend gave me volumes of contacts and helpful specifics.  But she also gave me something more important.  The courage to keep going. Continue reading

Our Elusive Self

Have you ever felt as if you are bumping into the same issue over and over again?   Everywhere you turn?   Such events may be reminding you that it is time to start your own business or leave a fallen marriage or pick up the phone to call a long-silent friend.  I am a little disturbed and amazed at how frequently I keep bumping into something of my own lately.   It keeps happening.  I can’t name it although I think it has something to do with identity.  My identity?   I’ve been transitioning for the better part of five years. Could there be more to do?

148677_3577_puzzle

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Giving Ourselves Permission

“I gave myself permission – thanks to being a part of this group ,” said Stephanie.  She was crediting a multi-session working group that I put together to help me develop a workbook, a companion to my book, Women & Transition.    Over the course of our sessions together we learned that Stephanie had been laid off a year earlier from her job as a research and development manager for a tech behemoth, a job that she’d held in some form or another for almost twenty years.  We also learned that our work together helped her dignify a small voice in her head that kept leading her away from R&D and tech.  She was excited and scared about her new path.  I was really struck by her words.  I felt as if she and I were in the same place.   How could this be?   My transition is farther down the garden path than hers.   Isn’t  it?   What was it about permission that spoke to me?

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Knowing

“I don’t know,” said my twelve-year-old daughter earlier this week in response to a benign question I asked her about choosing a movie.  Her tone was light-hearted if not a little distracted.  My heart fell as I listened to her response.  How could she not know?  I hoped we’d avoid this unknowing if only for a few more years.  Have you ever heard yourself say a similar statement?  I don’t know. Continue reading