It has been clear to me for a long time that the way we think about change is not helpful. It is treated as too disruptive and confusing, therefore to be resisted. We take this attitude because our tools for managing change are inadequate.
I've learned personally and through my relationship with clients that we need to understand change as a transition from one point to another. Our lives are living in stages, some long, some short. There is a logic to this transition, that if we can see it, we can plan a path forward that takes us to a new level of fulfillment and impact.
My Own Transition Point
For almost a decade, I've been using these Circle of Impact Guides as tools for helping people see clearly where they are and what they are to do. These guides were developed in conversation with people. Even in the midst of traditional organizational development processes, there is a lot of conversation about personal aspects of professional life and work.
I recognize that some of my best work has been in those moments of discussion about transition. My purpose in these moments is to assist people who are in transition. This isn't about managing change that happens to us. Instead, I am addressing the logic of change embedded in the transitions that we experience in our life & work.
At A Transition Point
A transition point is that moment in time when we recognize that we can either advance or decline. It is a moment of change.
My coaching process focuses on the present moment of change. This is more than historical reflection for understanding. It is a strategic development process that moves a person through that point of transition towards what they understand is their mission or future potential.
It is also about any transition regardless of the context or reasons for change.
My process is based on a set of standard questions that I ask everyone. These five questions provide the basis for understanding where we are and what we need to do.
These questions are simple. The hard part is being honest with oneself. The questions bring clarity to our perspective because they lead to actions that we can take to create the impact that validates our sense of who we are and why we exist.
I've shared these questions with just about every person I've met over the past eight years. Rarely, does someone not find insight that is not beneficial.
The goal is to reach a sufficient level of clarity that we know what we must do next. This clarity will reveal to us the impact that we can have with our lives. Impact being the change we create that is the difference that matters.
The basis of these questions is an understanding about people. I've come to see that every living person has three desires for their lives. They want to have a meaningful life with healthy relationships and a life that makes a difference that matters.
These three desires become the measure of every aspect of our lives. We want them to work together so that our lives may be full and good.
Once we've reached that clarity, then we begin to strategize what it is that needs to be done. As the questions show, we need to address the problems that we have that stand in the way of our fulfilling the opportunities that are ours.
The process takes us through the questions, and then we focus on the specific areas that need attention. What I've found is that the greatest need is for a clear understanding of who we are and what our lives are to mean.
This is an important question because we tend to measure our lives by what we do, rather than who we are and what our impact is.
I know the questions can work for anyone. I've seen it. It does take commitment and a willingness to be self critical. This is possible because of what I bring to the coaching relationship.
I believe in my clients. I believe in them so they can believe in themselves. To my friends, colleagues and associates, I see your potential. It is so tangible to me. And I want you to see it and reach its fulfillment.
This is true for leaders and their organizations. It is possible to coach a group of people through this process. It has always been part of my organizational consulting work. Now it becomes a stand-alone program that can be done with individuals, groups, in private and retreat settings.
One last point. An important one.
How do we know we are at a transition point?
To begin, we are all in transition, all the time. It is the only way we can fully live. That said, the way we gain understandng and perspective is through the recognition of the change that is taking place at 12 different Life & Work Transition points.
1. What use to be easy is now hard.
2. We find that our performance has reached a plateau, neither getting better or worse.
3. We are clearly not doing well, as your life and work are in decline.
4. We lose our job, and are forced to rethink who we are and what we have to offer an employer.
5. We are unhappy in our current life and work situation. This can come from a range of issues. Some may require professional counseling. If so, we can find that help.
6. We are tired of doing the same thing over and over.
7. We don't know how to spend your time at work. Low motivation to create good things.
8. Our relationships are not healthy.
9. We are confronted with life decisions that have no easy answer or application.
10. We are thrust into a leadership role in which we feel unprepared.
11. We are entering a new stage of life, as children leave the home, or a marriage ends.
12. We have a general uncertainty about life and work purpose.
The list could go on.
UPDATE: See more about how these 12 transition points function in our life and work.