It is inevitable that life changes happen. In the professional world, these are opportunities to test one’s self at the next level of leadership or move from one corporate home to another. Intellectually we appreciate the opportunities that lie ahead… emotionally it is reasonable to experience anticipation, stress, optimism, and self-doubt. The “next level” is the goal and the steps towards it naturally put us on unsteady ground. Life transitions have been examined by researchers for many decades and it is clear, few steps towards new jobs, roles, and fulfilling ways of living are perfectly smooth and most provide positive challenges to our being.
New professional paths are well viewed as bridges. As humans we are fairly comfortable with terra firma, but each time we cross a bridge we must leave the ground for a while until we reach the other side - suspended between a place we know and an unfamiliar, yet promising new destination. Leaders of industry have told PLD, “The company tells us, ‘You’re awesome. You’re in charge,” but forgets to tell us how to be ‘in charge.’ You’re left with some uncertainty.” Change sends ripples through the whole family system as well. Accepting a new, well-deserved job can mean uprooting spouses and children. It is easy to fear that safety, security, and comfort are being abandoned when one steps onto the bridge of change.
Bridges come in many shapes and sizes. The Sagamore Bridge is a sweeping four lane arch that drops one onto Cape Cod vacationland. Indiana Jones flees danger in the jungle across aged, rope and wood bridges that hang over harrowing ravines. The country is covered with rail bridges that allow commerce to flow smoothly and fast, to and fro. Fun, safety, and prosperity are often found at the other side of many of life’s uncertain spans. Finding the perspective and mental skills to move one foot after another across the bridge of change can be a relief to family, friends, and self. A brave traveler runs forward trusting the other side is firm land for the future, garners the emotional resources to grow through the stress of the moment, and only occasionally glances down.