In Praise Of... Transition

‘Transition’ is a word, in my experience, used so frequently over the last three years or so, is at risk of losing its buzz.

Not that it doesn’t deserve to be recognised as a very descriptive and useful noun. However, when describing real life, it’s like the bit in-between. It’s the space of uncertainty, the unknown, the moments from one state to another. ‘Transition’ could be described as a polite word to describe a period of discomfort.

CEOs of large organisations steer the transition of a business into new operating models. Parents of tweens blossoming into teens pray for this time to pass, with all unscathed. It’s like when you leap from the rock ledge into clear air, with the intention of landing on the other side. You just hope it will all end well.

It’s these moments in-between, the clear air that you can’t control or wrangle into best laid plans.

I am guilty of being a serial user of the word ‘transition’. In my career, I have not only been a part of projects charged with transitioning businesses, the word has also been part of my corporate title. Eventually the time came, as it does at some stage in a corporate career, when my role was made redundant. It was now time for my own transition.

The journey to official redundancy was long and drawn out over months and for many of my colleagues also. We walked the tightrope, aware our jobs were not safe in the future but soldiered on as professionals, with no clarity of when we were no longer required.

When asked, my response would be “change is good – it will all settle into a new direction soon”. Flying the flag and keeping as calm and mature as possible was my version of acting with integrity. However, the prolonged uncertainty and inability to offer any further strategic insights as to the direction the business was agonising.

So when the time came that my release date was confirmed, the relief was massive. I could at last organise to leave, finalise handover documents, bid colleagues farewell and fly to be with my elderly parents, struggling with health challenges. My response to inquiries on my future, I would say, with some underlying humour “I’m transitioning…”.

That’s where the bit in-between comes in. I stepped off the ledge and into the air, without a net or grand plan of how I’d get to the other side – whatever that would be.

Even though I had taken the time during the months of uncertainty to update my CV and applied for a few roles here and there, my heart wasn’t in it. Was I fearful of stepping off the ledge without a secure income or a shiny new rock to land on; was I nervous of being forgotten in the corporate carousel within a matter of weeks, would I become obsolete so soon…my last day coinciding with my 51st birthday? Yes - all of the above.

What transpired during this transition of what is now eight weeks has been marvellous!

The time I spent with my parents confirmed what really matters. Don’t get me wrong, having an income and meeting life’s responsibilities is very important too. However, my observation is that the amount of time we put our family on the back burner in order to fuel the job is a tragedy.

I was able to fit in with the schedules of my twin 21-year-old daughters’ busy schedules and just listen and laugh, all without checking 20 emails simultaneously. I allowed myself to breath, take my time to walk the dogs in the morning and savour the morning breeze without checking my phone. As a practitioner of meditation, I allowed myself to ignore the 5am alarm and rise somewhere between 7 and 9am, depending on whether I stayed up late to watch a movie the night before. The list of delightful indulgences goes on…

Former colleagues who ‘transitioned’ before me, said to ‘take your time, you just don’t realise how exhausted you are, until you stop’. It makes it all the more difficult to successfully execute the leap if you don’t have authentic energy, both physical and emotional.

Those uncertain moments of the in-between of ‘transition’ have been a blessing. I have put the collective moments of being in the ‘clear air’ to good use, before I land on the next rock.

Should you ever find yourself in the process of changing from one condition to another – remember, it’s just a period of time. Change is good – it will all settle in a new direction soon. My path is still not clear but I feel my heart coming back into it. My network has not disappeared and nor have I become invisible. There’s something exciting about not knowing what’s next. It’s no different to when you first got your job, or had your babies or married your partner. Or lost your job or your partner! Fortunately, I still have one of those. Transition still has its buzz after all.

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