Photo Credit: Lance Asper, Unsplash.com

Written by Otis McGregor
October 23, 2019

Transition is how we grow. It’s how we learn new things and meet new people. It’s also how we learn from our failures. 

If you aren’t in a state of transition, you’re not moving forward or growing. When we stop transitioning, we become stagnant in who we are and what we do. Stagnation isn’t sustainable. Stagnation’s the opposite of progress. 

When we adopt an attitude of transition, we look for ideas and ways to improve and prepare for the next thing–our future. When we stop transitioning, we stop looking towards the future, we stop dreaming. Who wants to stop dreaming?

Something that’s of concern in the military community is the transition of our servicemen and women from active military service to a civilian career field. This is a path that each service member has to determine for themselves.

It took me seven years to find my path following a 25-year career in Army Special Forces. There, I achieved all the goals that the young cadet McGregor envisioned and set–but I never knew what to do after that. My transition journey has been a great experience.

When I retired, I took what is best described as the easy path. I went into defense contracting. This was easy because it was familiar and very similar in culture and work to what I had been doing for the last 25 years. But I struggled with fulfillment. I worked for five different companies in eight years. Some I left because they weren’t a good fit for me. Others I left because I was laid off. 

My change came one summer, sitting in my home office. I was working for a small business as the Chief Strategy Officer. I traveled when and where I wanted to bring the company new business. But I wasn’t happy. As I sat there feeling sorry for myself, I decided to do some self-reflection on what I enjoyed and what fulfilled me. At the time, I was coaching boys high school rugby. I knew that every practice and interaction with the players brought me fulfillment. I knew I loved the boys and the game, but there was something more for me. It was the act of coaching that brought me fulfillment and enjoyment. I began to research coaching and how I could become a professional coach. I discovered my path and have had more fun and enjoyment ever since. I wouldn’t change one low or high point along that path because it’s created who I am today. 

As a professional performance coach and creator of better leaders, I have the opportunity, every day, to help people succeed at what they want to do. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but when those moments happen, it is great and I can’t wait for the next.

Transition Never Ends (And It Never Should)

I want to help others understand that transition never stops. Transition isn’t a fixed period of time–it’s continuous.

The military has transition leave (vacation); it has transition internships, both up to 90 days and when that service member–now veteran–finds a job, the Veteran Service Organizations declare victory. “Look at the success we created by helping this veteran find a new career outside the military.” But what isn’t realized or discussed is that this is just a step in the process of a continued transition of our lives. We can declare success because now that veteran has a job. What’s lost is that the transition doesn’t stop there.

You don’t have to be a veteran or an active duty service member to go through a dramatic, life milestone transition like leaving the military. This can be anything in our lives from graduating high school to getting married to having kids to just stepping out on your own to determine your own path.

When we accept that our lives are in a constant state of transition, we can create a clearer path to becoming who we want to become. When we step out on our own, whether it’s leaving the home that you grew up in or no longer having roommates so you can focus on yourself, that’s a transition and a step to the path that creates the you that you want to be. 

This is where you can either be in charge of that path or just accept things that happen as they happen. If you have a dream or a vision for what you want to do and who you want to become, wouldn’t it be better to move along a path that creates that person? If we stand back and wait for that person or thing to appear, what’s the probability of that happening? I’ll tell you that it’s less than winning the Mega Millions lottery.

If your path for financial freedom is the lottery, you’ll be constantly disappointed. If your path to the life you want and the success you desire is a path that you create, then you’ll succeed!

Formula for Transitions

Transition=Growth

Growth=Change

Change=Challenges

Challenges=New Experiences 

So, if transition is continuous, then that means that the only thing that’s constant is change. How do you adopt a transition state of mind? 

To adopt a transition state of mind, you have to want to be something that you aren’t today. It doesn’t have to be something dramatic like going from a business lawyer to first chair violinist, but it can be. Why not?

But what about the smaller steps–the incremental changes? Those are no different. If you just want to be a better version of yourself tomorrow than you are today, that requires transition. If you want to eat a better, healthier lunch than you did yesterday, or even than you did for breakfast this morning, that’s a transition.

Look at transition as a way to be in a state of mind that you can always do something different and be better each and every time you do it. We can always change who we are, what we do and how we do it.

It’s up to you to make the choice, live a life of transition, or stay where you are.

Photo Credit: Lance Asper, Unsplash.com