Remember leaving home for the first time? If you were anything like me I couldn’t wait to spread my wings and fly. Yet admittedly I entered that rite of passage with a fair amount of mixed feelings – the melancholy thoughts of leaving behind the comforts of home, fear about what unknowns might be lurking around the corner waiting to pounce on my naiveté, yet for me there was the exhilaration of setting out to conquer the world.
Change, it always carries with it the same three elements I just described, albeit at vastly varying degrees of intensity depending on the circumstances. Better said perhaps in his book, Transitions, William Bridges defines change as “that difficult process of letting go of an old situation, suffering the confusing nowhere of in-betweenness, and launching forth again in a new situation . . .” Change is sometimes exhilarating such as that youthful time when we plunge into life full of energy and ideas. Other times it’s like a nuclear attack shattering our hopes and dreams. Else it just slowly evolves over time as we grow older, life happens, and the world as we have known it simply changes. Or as Bridges says in his book, “Things go slowly for a time and nothing seems to change – until suddenly the eggshell cracks, the branch blossoms, the tadpole’s tail shrinks away, the leaf falls, the bird molts, the hibernation begins.”
In all my years as a corporate manager the most difficult tasks I ever faced were initiating changes, whether as minor as installing a new coffee pot or as major as a reorganization. Changes are always difficult, even positive ones. Regardless, they all upset our comfort levels, and for a time lead us down unfamiliar paths. “It is frightening to discover,” Bridges ponders, “that some part of us is still holding on to what we used to be, for it makes us wonder if the change was in fact a bad idea. Can it be that the old thing was somehow right for us and the new thing wrong?”
I still miss home as I once knew it, but I’m glad I left, and more than once I must admit my naiveté has been pounced on by those unknowns lurking about. As to conquering the world? Not likely to happen, but at least I keep working to make a difference in it. Change is seldom perfect and always difficult, yet as William Bridges reminds us, ‘They are key times in the natural process of self-renewal.”