Transitions: How to Weather Stormy Seas
and Find a Safe Harbor

by Susan Dunn

When the sea of life gets stormy, how can you stay shipshape and ride the waves?

Youíre the CAPTAIN of your ship. Being empowered means having a deep sense of confidence that you can take charge of your ship and handle whatever comes up. Use your personal power and intentionality to keep your ship on course through stormy waters.

And every good captain has a CREW. Who will you have with you on this voyage? A good mate - a life partner; a navigation officer - a coach or other expert who knows the ropes and provides vital information to help you chart your course; a purser - accountant or financial adviser; a medical officer - your personal healthcare team; and others to swab the deck, lower the anchor, and do routine maintenance - cleaning service, yard service, car repairman, baby sitters, etc.

Youíll need a MAP. There is a map to transitions, because there are certain things in common to all transitions. Take a Transitions course, and/or hire a coach or other expert in transitions.

All sailors have a BAROMETER. What barometers do is tell you a change is coming. This is crucial to a sailor at sea, or a sailor at life. Our intuition acts like a barometer. Wouldn't you agree it would be good to be able to sense if you were about to be laid off, or if your daughter were experimenting with drugs? Everyone has intuition. Learn how to pump up the volume on yours and read its messages.

A ship takes on BALLAST when itís too light to sail. Add extra sleep and nurturing in times of stress, a solid Personal Mission Statement, money-reserves, a good time management program. Shift ballast if your ship is weighted down -- get rid of tolerations -- negative people, time-eaters, bad habits.

Good STABILIZERS for your ship are essential. A good social support network with strong intimate relationships, people you can count on, your faith, expert help such as a coach, and a well-bolstered Resilience can stabilize you through rough times. You bolster Resilience by processing Transitions well and by growing through hard times, not just going through them.

What LIFE VESTS would you take with you in the lifeboat if your ship were sinking? Most people in my seminars mention specific people in their lives, and their faith. Some mention experts of various types. I've never heard anyone mention money. Life vests these days feature a light and a whistle. Your optimism is the light, guiding you to safety. Your personal power, your voice, is the whistle. Donít forget to take these with you!

Donít become a CORK BOBBING IN THE OCEAN. Did you know that a cork out in the middle of the ocean would bob eternally? Each wave rotates the cork slightly, but doesn't move it anywhere. If you want to get through rough seas, you have to take action.

You have to be able to TENDER. When a ship can't get up to a harbor, it anchors and then sends people ashore on smaller boats. It originally meant "sending out." To tender in your own situation, you need to use creativity. How else can you get where you need to get when Plan A didn't work out? What can you "send out" that will help the situation - requests for guidance and help?

Passing MUSTER is also essential. Muster is an emergency plan. It means putting on your life vest and reporting to your assigned muster station. This is practiced in calm times so you'll 'know the drill'. Having been through it in a calm and rational time, presumably in a state of panic your body will remember while your mind is flooded with emotion, and you'll get where you need to get. Do you know where the muster station is? Practice in quiet times. You'll need the knowledge in emergencies.

What ship doesnít encounter WINDS OF CHANGE. Winds are always blowing in a transition. It's typical to experience ambivalence, wanting the thing that's gone, wanting to move forward, fear of the unknown, survivor guilt, confusion, joy, sadness, anticipation. Today you're glad you got the promotion and ready to go, tomorrow you dread the new responsiblity, doubt you can handle it, and mourn the changed relationships. The winds can toss you about without the anchor of your Personal Power and your Stabilizers.

Stormy seas have WAVES. It matters the size of the adversity, and the succession of adverse events. One large wave can really knock you over. So can a rapid succession of smaller waves. 60' waves routinely roll in slowly, one by one in the Pacific, causing no problem, but a rapid succession of 30' waves sank the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior. It had no time to recover, to right itself. Depending upon the relative size of your craft and the size of the wave, it's best to turn and face the wave rather than taking it broadside. Turn and face your problems head-on; it will be easier in the long run. Thereís nothing worse than getting side-swiped. The trench of the wave is how it effects you - it may look like just a house your leaving to someone else, but to you it's your memories and your home. Learn about you, learn about the waves.

Study transitions. Processing one transition and learning good coping strategies builds resilience and helps you handle the next one, and the next one. Learn to ride the waves to fun and happiness!


Susan Dunn, M.A., is an executive coach, speaker, writer, and author of a series of ebooks on emotional intelligence. She is dedicated to bringing EQ into the workplace with seminars and workshops, individual coaching, and adjunctive distance learning courses. Visit her on the web at www.susandunn.cc and mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc for a free ezine about EQ in the workplace. Please put "EQ" in the subject line.

Many more articles on Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


Copyright 2003 by Susan Dunn. All rights reserved.

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