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Choosing Growth

Choosing Growth

As someone whose work revolves around change, I am fascinated by people and how we react to our evolving world. So it's not surprising that 2020 is giving me a lot to observe and learn from.

We know that change is inevitable. It’s constantly courting us, delivering new things that can provide a much-needed refresh, or knocking us off our game (usually when we're least expecting it). As the years go by, the pace of change is quickening. As the saying goes, just wait five minutes, and things will be different.

[Related: Three Ways to Future-Proof Yourself in the Next Normal]

Back in February, the speed of change picked up quickly, moving to full-tilt in March. When the pandemic began, most of us gravitated toward safety and comfort - creating a new space for ourselves to build up our immunity and swim in the ocean of uncertainty we had been dropped into.

As the months progress and the realities around us consistently morph, we've started to accept some facets of the new abnormal and dig into the work of re-engineering our lives. That being said, things are far from comfortable for most of us. The goalposts keep moving, and new challenges regularly surface.

Welcome to the do-it-yourself environment, where uncertainty is sparking us into action. This is where we realize the next chapter will be different, and it's starting now.

It's common to feel unmoored in this in-between state - coined the "neutral zone" by William Bridges - where we are stepping away from what's ending and preparing to step into the new beginning. It's awkward to be in, but necessary to get to the other side. And we need to keep our eyes open as we're traversing it.

In Bridges’s model:

...change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t 'take.'

Transition - not change - is where we achieve growth. It's where we take inventory and reprioritize, assessing what we're ready to hold on to, and what to let go of. And where we can redefine and redesign what's next.

[Related: Focus on What is Going Right]

And as we look deeper within, we must also look outside of ourselves. Regularly seeking out stories and doses of encouragement from the various ways people, businesses, schools, and communities are innovating in this messy time.

Whether it's a small tweak, a significant pivot, or a reinvention crafted by individuals who are exiting old careers and venturing into new ones, we are becoming more agile - rethinking how things have been done in the past, focusing on what's needed now, and charting new waters through testing and experimentation to see what sticks.

Challenging old models requires fresh perspectives, building new systems, and a hefty amount of courage.

Some examples I've recently found inspiring include: Canlis cooking up new ways to feed people outside of restaurant walls, cities rethinking public spaces as our use of them evolves, local exterminators moving to a cleaning/disinfecting service offering, and even Dolly Parton, who is making tough decisions and continually evolving her business.

Now is a great time to experiment. Try on something new; approach a situation/relationship/project differently. Play around with possibilities, not getting too attached to any particular idea so we become more comfortable with testing things out and open to whatever the results may be. Then step back to see if you're realizing the value you need to, or if you need to keep pivoting.

Now is the time for growth. This is where we don’t just reimagine how we do our work, but how we do ourselves.

As Herminia Ibarra writes:

In times of transition and uncertainty, thinking and introspection should follow action and experimentation - not vice versa. New experiences not only change how you think - your perspective on what is important and worth doing - but also changes who you become.

So who do you want to be on the other side of this pandemic?

[Related: Take a Leap Before You Grow Wings]


Suzanne Weller partners with clients to maximize talent, transform organizations and teams, and lead from a human-centered place. Find out more at and discover more blog posts at

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