I’ve written about this book before, because I LOVE IT. It is about seeing life through the lens of “an underlying and universal pattern inherent in all transitions.”
He guides us through each of “the three perilous stages of any transition, endings, the neutral zone and new beginnings,” and cautions us about what gets lost in our lives, careers and relationships, when we skip over the neutral zone.
Endings. These are the true beginnings of every transition. They require contemplation and examination. Much like I used to do a “Lessons Learned” assessment after large programs and M&A integration initiatives, the intention is to acknowledge both what went well and what did not, to feel it all, and learn from it. It’s a time to acknowledge the true ending, which, even when chosen or celebrated (as in retirement or a graduation), is a death, something that will be no more, something both to grieve and celebrate. That is how we honor endings.
Bridges asserts that, ‘The way we think about endings is key to how we can begin anew.”
The Neutral Zone. This is the murky middle, the time between what once was and who we once were, what is coming and who we are becoming. It is a dark time, filled with uncertainty, which is wildly uncomfortable. We are not trained to navigate uncertainty, so our tendency is to want to skip this step and say yes to the next best job, relationship, or opportunity that presents itself, often without much consideration or acknowledgement of how much we may have changed. Sometimes this works out. Most of the time, it doesn’t.
Notably, the neutral zone is a fertile time, where new connections, ideas and opportunities are revealed, where we can go deeper and reorient. By being willing explorers, we can embrace who and what are most important to us now.
The New Beginning. As in taijitu (the yin yang symbol) or in the changing lines of the iChing, “we come to beginnings only at the end.” To make the most of what’s possible moving forward, we are encouraged to disentangle from what once was, let go of old identities and stories and embrace what’s true now. Aligning with this “knowing” is what leads to greater success, satisfaction, inner peace and delight. It’s a way to bring more joy into our lives.
Through Transitions, Bridges “offers an elegant, simple, yet profoundly insightful roadmap to navigate change and move into a hopeful future.”
(Find this book in the Recommended Reading section of my website, under Guiding Principle #5: Create A Purposeful Life)