Community//

Transitions

The practice of paying attention to endings, whether voluntary or involuntary, requires opening our hearts to what is instead of what is most desirable, comfortable, or convenient.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.
A butterfly and pupas of different hanging on something

Lately, I feel as though I’m waking up from a deep sleep. There is a clear sense of something ending. At the same time, I don’t have a clear feeling or vision of where this is leading, which is both painful and exhilarating. The awareness of my attitudes regarding race and coming to terms with my responsibility is a major catalyst for this waking up, for this transition. I’m beginning to see and feel how I’ve avoided my personal discomfort and cultural pain in this area. Some deeply held assumptions, personally and culturally, are being challenged. Many are being shed.

I’m staying with this practice, the best I can; the practice of noticing what needs to be let go of. And I’m paying particular attention to what is ending. William Bridges in his book Transitions, which was first published in 2004, points out that transitions almost always begin with something ending. He highlights the importance of recognizing, owning, and appreciating these endings.

There’s something valuable about paying attention to our transitions. One way to think about transitions, leaning again on Bridge’s work, is that they involve three distinct parts:

  • Endings: something is ending, shedding, being let go of
  • Not knowing: there is a period of not knowing; a period of discovery
  • New beginnings: solutions, opportunities for change, and next steps begin to emerge

This framework can be useful with the many transitions we find ourselves in whether it involves changing roles or careers, engaging with loss and difficulty, navigating changes in important relationships, or any number of other transitions we or those around us are facing.

Recognizing and naming the process of transitioning can be helpful. It can also be supportive in facing and more effectively understanding and shifting our attitudes about things like racial justice, environmental justice, and climate change, motivating us to pay more attention, deepen our understanding, and take more effective action.

The practice of paying attention to endings, whether voluntary or involuntary, requires opening our hearts to what is instead of what is most desirable, comfortable, or convenient. It means staying with our discomfort, eliminating complacency, and seeing the harm that is being done by not letting go.

What transitions are you in, right now? What is ending and what needs to be let go of?

Practice #3 in my book, Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader, is Don’t Be An Expert. None of us are experts when it comes to transitions. Not knowing means being willing to deal with the fears, the emptiness, the lack of clarity, and the lack of a plan.

How do you stay engaged with the practice and the discomfort of not knowing? 

New beginnings can’t usually be rushed or forced, as much as we want to get to it. Somehow, solutions and changes begin to emerge. We may find that our hearts are larger and more resilient than we thought.

What is emerging for you during these most unusual times?

I’m moved by the work of James Baldwin and his insight on the importance of paying attention, of directly facing what needs to be let go of, and what needs to be changed. To quote Baldwin in The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings (2010): “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

* P.S. Thanks to everyone who responded to my recent newsletter on Struggle and Progress. I have compiled some resources on racial justice here

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    10 Tips for Successfully Navigating Major Life Transitions

    by Kristine Gentry
    Thoughtful young businesswoman looking at gap with question mark. Challenge and doubt concept.
    Community//

    Managing Covid-induced Job Search Anxiety

    by Elizabeth Borelli, PCC
    Community//

    “I learned how to access my flow state.”, with Nichole Kelly

    by Ben Ari

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.