I write as someone reasonably qualified to advise on handling transition. My new life involves travelling and living for a few months at a time on either side of ‘the pond’, whilst running a business.
Here’s some thoughts to help anchor you through those all inevitable times of transition.
These ‘anchors’ can be used personally and organizationally when everything is in the midst of changing.
1. Knowing and staying in touch with the mission – Sticking to the main mission is the best way forward unless you are absolutely sure it needs to change. Straightforward advice but helpful nevertheless when routines are disrupted and all around is chaos.
I don’t want to encourage the indecisive people among us to constantly question their decision and direction, but sometimes we need to tweak and change the main mission, in the light of new information or experience that shows us things we didn’t know when we first set it.
As an organization, it’s of key importance that you have this mission statement and that it resonates with leadership on all levels. Once you have it, it’s important to keep it before you and not forget it. The same applies to any personal time of transition. Why am I undergoing this transition? What is the purpose of it? What is my ultimate mission?
2. Keeping the main thing the main thing – This looks like knowing what the priority tasks are and even if it feels hard, staying focused on these for the season. Slightly different from number one, as I mean the actual tasks and projects that have been decided for now.
As an established organization or small business this can be difficult as many distractions come. Many highly successful CEOs have ‘to don’t’ lists not to do lists. Why do you think that is? How many times have you been distracted from completing something important?
3. Staying ‘fed’ – This covers a myriad of different things for different personalities. Things such as leisure, ‘fun’, good relationships, spiritual input, and health activities like exercise and good eating.
Keeping ‘non work’ fun alive ensures longevity and keeps motivation at a high. It’s of key importance to ensure you have the energy and a balance of life that allows for this. Without this you often end up feeling like you are on a hamster wheel. For focused highly driven leaders this area is probably the most important. Sometimes I think of it like this: – I need to work as hard on my rest and fun activities as I do on my business, sometimes (often I’m afraid) I have to work harder on it, in order to see a good balance.
4. Routine – Find some kind of routine each day. When big things are changing, small routines can give you a sense of peace and familiarity that you need. Some of mine include; going to the gym at the same time every day, a particular coffee shop, a particular walk. Shutting down the computer by a certain time each day is a great one. (My computer shutdown time each day is 7pm!)
As a leader you can integrate something like this into your daily team activities. It could look like a team lunch every week. Maybe a daily update meeting towards the end of the day reporting only good news.
5. Learn to enjoy the ride – It takes 21 days to create a habit; therefore you can develop habits that enable you to enjoy change and transition. I propose that you can even learn to enjoy it in just 21 days. Try writing a list of what you like about your current transition and read it and add to it every day for 21 days. Think what does this time give you that you wouldn’t have in other times? Think about the growth opportunities in this time. What skills can you learn now that you could never learn at any other time? How is managing transition excellently a skill that will help you in the future? What character traits can you develop? How does this time make you stronger? What can this season teach you about you as a leader? How can it help you leading others? How can you manage your negative thinking, or anxiousness? What positive thoughts and focus can you replace these with?
6. Meditate on the joy before you – Remind yourself of what you are transitioning into, that is good and wonderful. Think of things you are looking forward to transitioning into. Write a list, talk about it with excitement, meditate on it, build the picture, and think about the specifics. Where it will be, who with, what you will be doing, how you will feel.
Many of us experience the most growth in these times. Learn to capitalize on that and enjoy the ride!