Tag: Transitions

Founders Corner


You’ve had your eye on a new role in your company and you want to do everything possible to prepare yourself to be the ideal candidate in the eyes of the decision-maker to ensure that you get the job. You study the requirements, comb through the job description, and confirm you’ve got what it takes to shine in this new position. You feel right for the opportunity. This will be a change for you – an event to go from one role to another. This is the ideal time to do something different that will challenge you in such a way that allows you to grow and develop your abilities. 

You also recognize there are a few skills you might want to develop to seal the deal. It could be highlighting your strengths in building relationships, or perhaps tweaking your ability to coach others given this new opportunity puts you in a leadership role. You may even find it helpful to develop your ability to effectively engage others on a team, while at the same time, impressing upper management that they can count on you to lead new lines of business. 

You might ask yourself, what will it take to enhance building relationships, coaching others, and engaging audiences of one to one hundred or even a thousand? What steps will you need to take? Which new techniques will aid you best? How will you go from being an individual contributor to developing others’ ability to contribute to business objectives and desired outcomes? The answers to those questions will serve as your transitions. 

Hi, I’m Byron Darden. Welcome to the start of our series on Transitions. I thought it fitting to start this series at the Gateway Arch here in Saint Louis, Missouri which physically illustrates the transition from one foundation to another. For those of you already familiar with my background in figure skating, you might have guessed that transitions are my specialty. 

Skating on ice is all about making transitions from one skate to another, from edge to edge, and often from one discipline in the sport to another. For over 40 years I’ve mastered transitions in the Olympic sport of figure skating. And for over 20 years I’ve applied that mastery to executives all over the world in honing their ability to become more effective leaders. 

I look forward to helping you make effective transitions in your career trajectory as well.

Working Through Transitions

Our lives pass through many phases.  We go from living with our parents to striking out on our own.  We graduate from grade school, then high school, then college.  We move from one job to another or from one department to another, climbing the corporate ladder.  Some of us marry and have children.  Some of us move to a different state or country. People come and go in our lives.  

All of these require going through transitions that we face over time.  We experience them at different times or rates of frequency and they all change us – one way or another.

This month begins our series on Transitions in the workplace and beyond – recognizing them, dealing with them, and thriving through them.

Change Can Be Uncomfortable

There are numerous ways of looking at the concept of transitions.  It could be used in general to explain the process of someone moving, or being moved, from one set of services to another.  It could also encompass the adoption of a new look – such is the case for dress for success – or way of being – as we might adopt new behaviors and alternative mindsets.  

In the end, transition refers to the movement from a current state to a future state.  Whatever it is we are doing now, we plan to do it differently in the future, or possibly not at all.

What makes a transition most challenging is that it can be emotionally triggering to make a change. Most of us have a desire to stay in our comfort zone and most often that means staying the same…or so we believe! 

I have found that change is not really what haunts us the most.  It is that we have developed patterns that allow us to seemingly work on autopilot doing something repeatedly without thinking too much about it.  We are compared to machines that were designed to do just that.

We are not machines, we are living, breathing beings that need change to thrive and survive.

When burnout occurs due to monotony or high stress, ask yourself – “Has the lack of change contributed to the feeling?  Should you answer yes, then step out of your comfort zone and work through a transition. 

Pushing Through Discomfort

I am in the business of change.  Anyone reading this article right now might be looking to make a change and are wondering how to do it effectively, efficiently, and with as little disruption to the current day-to-day as possible.  

Once we make whatever change seems the most necessary, we want to feel positive about the change and feel it is worth what it will take to sustain the change we have in mind.

Change is important for several reasons:

  • Change teaches us things about ourselves. It opens the doors to new possibilities.
  • Change enables us to adapt to new situations. It allows us to meet people and step into new environments.
  • Change allows us to look at things from a new perspective. These views may reinforce or challenge our life values.
  • Change gives us the strength to make it through tough times. It helps us put one foot in front of the other.  

What most of us fail to realize is that in between the decision to change and the execution of the change is the art of the transition.  The smoother the transition, the easier the change.  When a transition becomes bumpy and disruptive, we feel off balance and would rather go back to the way we used to do it so the feeling of comfort returns. 

The challenge with that thinking is that we soon return to the feeling that got us thinking about making a change in the first place.

Transitions will take you on a roller coaster of emotions.  It’s important to step back and understand the why of the change and envision the future state after the change.  

Fight, Flight, or Freeze

At its essence, transitions are what allow us to simply walk.  We move one foot in front of the other every time we stroll somewhere. It could be from our bedroom to our bathroom. We move from breakfast to lunch. We go from home to work and back again at the end of the day.  Our work lives require us to work on one project and then move to the next. Or as many of us experience, working on more than one project at a time. 

We acknowledge how we behave and note that we can benefit from choosing new ways of behaving in the world to make living in it easier, more fruitful, and pleasing as an end game.

We are making these transitions every day, all day, and in several different aspects of living our lives. Most of them we give little thought to and yet, when the word change comes into our reality, we cringe. Some feel the sensations associated with the flight, fight, or freeze response to a perceived threat. 

Understanding these responses will help you work through them. In all three, your defenses are up and you anticipate a threat or sense of danger.  That danger could be the perceived change that affects your comfort level.

  • Fight – You are ready to stand your ground! You might feel intense emotions and a knot in your stomach, and you are prepared to fight the danger head-on.
  • Flight – You are restless, tense, and feel trapped. You are ready to head in the opposite direction. 
  • Freeze – You feel stuck in place.  Your heart is pounding and you may not know what action to take, so you end up not taking any.

When you feel one of these stress responses, it’s important to take a deep breath and consider what is happening.  Stepping back until you feel comfortable with the change or talking to a trusted advisor before making a final decision can prove helpful.

The flip side of responding to a decision by stepping back first is when you are faced with a decision that must be made now! Your option to weigh the pros and cons is short-changed. Think on your feet. 

Life is a Journey

What will make a transition most seamless is to determine what set of steps you will use to move forward to the future state. The movement from state to state is the change. 

What happens during that change is the transition that serves as the vehicle to differentiate and accomplish the change from one event to another. The more well-defined the transition is, the easier the acceptance of the new state or event we enter. 

It isn’t reaching the destination that is the goal. It is the journey towards that goal where our focus must stay. 

Keep in mind that change can happen suddenly or gradually.  The steps to the pinnacle of leadership can take longer than you like.  Those steps are there for a reason – to prepare you.  While some leaders have an innate ability to respond to challenges effectively, the rest of us follow a bumpier road with many twists and turns.  Every setback makes you stronger and/or wiser.

From the Ice to the Boardroom

Many of my readers know of my four decades in the sport of figure skating. I refer to that time often in my work because those forty years were all about how to make smooth transitions. 

At the core of figure skating is the transition from one edge to another, from one stroke of one blade on the ice to the next stroke of the other blade on the ice. Everything I learned in figure skating is about mastering the transition of weight from one part of the body or edge to another, as seamlessly and as controlled as possible.

I’ve taken what I’ve learned from skating and applied it to coaching executives on how to make changes in their behavior that will inspire change in the outcome of their leadership. When they see the benefit, they also find it easier to maintain the shift they’ve made. 

You will notice that Triple Axel executive coaching is also in transition. Over the next several months you will notice changes we are making – from our new website to our new offerings – and to how we interact with you and all our clients in making your experience one that is meaningful, fruitful and will increase the bottom line of business in order to continue surviving and thriving.

Change is Inevitable

The fast pace of today’s business world means that people face many more changes.  Sixty-seven percent of leaders report that their organizations now experience “some or many more” changes than they did in the previous year.

These changes tend to start at the top and then cascade through the senior ranks.  69 percent of new CEOs reshuffle their management teams within the first two years. While this may mean more opportunity for someone looking for a change, it disrupts those who hoped to stay in their position for a long period.

When stability is what you seek from an employment situation, actively seek out companies that demonstrate these traits.  If you thrive in fast-paced environments, a company with a track record of taking chances might be worth pursuing.

Not every business operates in this fashion.  Many fail to have a change plan at all.  According to a recent survey, 78% of business owners said they enjoy managing their company too much to start thinking about a future change. In addition, 42% said they were too busy to start planning, while 44% felt that a change was too far in the future to establish a plan.

A big part of legacy planning for business owners is changing to new ownership when life takes a turn.  Even passing the business to a family member has a small chance of a successful change.  When you have strong intentions about the future, it’s prudent to plan it now.

Use a Support System

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.”Rainer Maria Rilke

Change is the one constant in our lives. Even those who stay in a position for a long period of time are changing.  Changes can be big or small. They do keep us moving. The question that emerges is whether the movement is backward or forward.

While you might be clear about the reasons for the change and convinced that it is the ideal decision for your future state, the steps to getting there might be muddled with perceived or real obstacles, either physical or otherwise.  

Immersion in the middle of a transition can lead to feelings of confusion and a loss of direction, causing us to lose focus on the big picture. Don’t go it alone, book a call and see how creating a support system can ease the discomfort of change.