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Navigating the Current of Transition

As a nation collectively, and for many of us personally, we are in a season of “transition.”

The term comes from its latin root word “transire” which means to cross over, with an emphasis on the process over the destination. Unlike change which is situational, transition is psychological. Like William Bridges outlines in his book Managing Transitions, there are three phases to transition:

  1. An ending, or letting go
  2. A neutral zone characterized by confusion, distress or feeling “in between”
  3. A new beginning

I immediately liken “transition” to swimming or wading across a river. Face forward, eyes fixed toward the other side, we’ve left where we used to be only to find ourselves fighting a current that taunts us by shifting our forward marching to sideways stumbling.

Maybe you can relate?

Right now, our children are transitioning through the end of a school year, high school seniors from graduation toward the “real world.” As a society we are transitioning from major COVID fears toward life after masks and restrictions. I know many people who are even relocating at this time to new homes and new cities; for my family, we are even moving to a new state.

One of my favorite authors, Henry Cloud, in his book Necessary Endings, wisely states that our lives will improve only when we choose to see endings as necessary steps toward a “better” future. When we internally embrace necessary endings as positive and beneficial, we are able to step forward. Off the bank and into the river.

The part of transitioning that I find most interesting is the middle “no-man’s-land” part of the process where the weight of uncertainty psychologically pulls us down and away from the opposite river bank where the hope of a better future resides. And when we get stuck, that’s hope deferred. The place where our hearts get sick, and tired.

So what do we do when we are faced with uncertainty?

  1. Remember (or discover) where you are going, and focus your gaze there.
  2. Resolutely redefine the positive, lifegiving values the steer your mind and heart.
  3. Choose to keep stepping forward with courage.

Allow me a moment to relate this to education. School was different this year and I believe it will continue to look different in the future. Take a moment to step into the role as guide for your children through their process of transition from likely the most difficult year of their lives. Help them find their vision for learning, define their values and face the journey forward with courage. School and learning can be so much more than they’ve ever known it to be. They can make it so, with your guidance.