Bumper Sticker Wisdom

Change is inevitable, growth is optional.  I read that yesterday on a bumper sticker.  William Bridges, one of the great change management gurus, says that during times of great change it’s the in-between, or transitions that are the most challenging.  The space between what was and what will be.  It is here, in the transitions, that our character is shaped and our leadership is transformed.  

Transitions bring uncertainty and chaos to our lives.  They are filled with grief for what is lost, fear of the unknown, and excitement for a new adventure.  The possibilities of what are to come ebb and flow like a warm summer’s breeze and they pounce like a lion who quickly overpowers with strength and cunning. 

For me, there is a feeling of being turned inside out, as my body attempts to catch up with what has happened externally.  Today I realize that it is in the turning that our hearts are laid bare, open and available for exploration.  These are the times that we learn who we are, and as the saying goes, what we are made of…or perhaps more importantly, what we are made for.

Everywhere I go there is talk of the economic crisis.  Sometimes the fear is palatable and I don’t know if  it is mine, others, or part of the very air we breathe.  The outlook is grim, as speculation and projected outcomes reach a whole new level of disaster.  I sometime fall prey to this mentality of fear, and begin to doubt if the world will ever feel safe and full of possibilities again.  Other times, those I encounter take on a this too shall pass outlook, or worse yet, a Polly Anna view of the state of the things.  I think I will go mad if I hear one more time that global warming isn’t really happening, or that it’s just propaganda that we should be weaning ourselves from oil.  The truth often is somewhere to the right of this, and to the left of that. 

I finally had to pick myself up and shake myself off a few weeks ago.  I decided to use problem solving techniques that have worked for me in the past, one of which is reality testing.  I took some specific situations, my IRA for example, and spoke with three individuals who are knowledgeable and that I trust and respect.  This approach worked well for me.  I was able to determine that some changes were warranted based on the current environment, but putting my money in a coffee tin and burying it in the backyard was a little over the top.  Taking a full inventory of the situation, considering several perspectives, and then making an informed choice helped me stop worrying.   

Growth for me during this time of turmoil and change is about knowing what I control and what I don’t.  It’s also about asking for help and advice from trusted sources.  And it’s about knowing that it’s a good idea to explore what’s in one’s heart every now and again. 

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