Stop Sign courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Transition is not just a nice way to say change. It is the inner process through which people come to terms with a change, as they let go of the way things used to be and reorient themselves to the way that things are now. In an organization, managing transition means helping people to make that difficult process less painful and disruptive.”  William Bridges, Transition as a Way Through.

At a time when thousands of individuals and businesses are feeling their future blocked, William Bridges offers a helpful way to rethink what lies ahead.  The key is to shift from focusing on the change-barrier (everything standing in the way) to the transition-path around the barrier that will allow you to move forward.

A good place to start the shift in focus from the change-barrier to the transition is with the question, “What is it time to let go of?”  Personal fitness can serve as an example.  Many of us understand the need to be more fit, but we can list multiple reasons blocking our progress such as no time, can’t afford a gym membership, no idea of where to start, etc.  The reasons block us from moving forward.

What if we simply started listing the things we would be willing to let go of or stop doing?  The list could include late night snacks, second desserts, taking the elevator, a bag of chips with the lunch sandwich, etc.  By exploring the things we are able to stop doing, momentum begins and a new path around the change-barrier emerges.  The new path may not be enjoyable, but it will take you somewhere.

Periodically I work with organizations that are stuck.  They know they need to change but the barriers seem overwhelming.  Having them begin by identifying what they could stop doing often frees up their thinking and a transition begins.

Frederick Buechner in his book, Room Called Remember, said, “We become something new by ceasing to be something old … Out of Nothing he creates Something.  Out of the End he creates the Beginning.”  William Bridges would agree.

  • What change-barriers exist in your organization?
  • What could your organization stop doing in order to find a transition-path?