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Navigating Change: We Are In a Fast River Together

We successfully moved our daughter into her college dorm recently. The move-in was quite smooth and well-organized. There was a heady rush of energy and electricity amongst her peers and their parents. It was fun to be a part, albeit small, of this aspect of her transition. By all accounts, our daughter’s first couple of weeks have been a smashing success navigating vastly different environs, an eclectic class mix and myriad new friends and acquaintances. Her mother and I continue to be enthralled by her adventurous spirit and her desire to live fully and deeply. And while the house is certainly quieter, her presence and spirit remain throughout. Our daughter’s approach to inflection points and her desire for change, continue to profoundly strike us (in all the best ways). The vigor with which she navigates the new and welcomes the unexpected is as refreshing as it is inspiring. Her quiet fortitude and grace belie her age; her presence and ability to be present shine. She continues to teach; hopefully, we continue to learn and grow.

My wife and I are often asked about this inflection point and what it means for us, especially since our daughter is an only child. Unequivocally, our response is that this is her time to fly. She is ready and needing this next period of growth and new adventures that come with it. Though bittersweet and selfishly desiring more time together, we would not have it any other way. We had the great gift and opportunity to serve as stewards in the unfolding of a magnificent new beginning and our opportunity, obligation and honor was successfully guiding her through these phenomenal early years.

I am reminded of the prescient words from Bruce Springsteen in both his memoir and later, his solo theater performance on Broadway. Speaking of his relationship with his father, turbulent and episodic for many years, he noted that as parents, “we are ghosts or we are ancestors in our children’s lives. We either lay our mistakes, our burdens upon them, and we haunt them, or we assist them in laying those old burdens down, and we free them from the chain of our own flawed behavior. And as ancestors, we walk alongside of them, and we assist them in finding their own way, and some transcendence.” Our daughter has two ancestors that have and will continue to walk with and support her in finding her own transcendence.

So, not surprisingly, this edition and a subsequent one focuses on inflection points, change and our ability to navigate and find our next new, different, etc. ways. Though the primary focal point of the resources below is professional, many of the same concepts and mindsets are applicable to our personal lives.

The spotlight article in this edition is You’ve Reached an Inflection Point in Your Career. What Now? In it, the authors note that “the key to navigating the unknown is to rethink our relationship with change and to recognize that what now? moments can be an invitation to inquiry and exploration rather than a threat. This means acknowledging that new circumstances may lead us to freeze or react without thinking, and that our first impulse is something we can temper with attention and practice…[We can] view points of inflection as opportunities to reflect on our commitments, examine our priorities, and course correct when necessary. Learning to do so is a professional and personal development imperative in times of uncertainty and change.”

Finding opportunity amidst constant change, much of which is out of our control, can be challenging. The ability to slow down, appreciate an inflection point, be curious about what could be and chart the next path on our respective career journeys is powerful and potentially liberating. Whether it is a significantly new/different strategic approach or a smaller, tactical move, the desire to thoughtfully and deliberately career craft is paramount. Yet, with so much in flux and the choice set often overwhelming, it can be difficult to define and implement a meaningful and tailored development plan.

In my career crafting work with clients, we focus extensively on understanding the values, strengths and motivations that are most important to them. This process is grounding; it allows us to construct a framework to direct their greatest gifts to organizations aligned to their purpose and ambitions. The rigor in this work is fundamental to discerning what truly matters most and how they can best move forward to realize their career consonance and achieve their career aspirations.

Articles

Harvard Business Review: As the World Shifts, So Should Leaders. “Research shows that different eras call for different approaches.

Harvard Business Review: Starting a New Job as a Mid-Career Professional. “If it’s been a while since you started a new job, you might experience a range of emotions once you start your new position. But those first weeks in a new job are when you make your first impression, and it’s hard to change people’s perceptions once they’re developed. The author presents five tips on how to transition into a new job, especially if it’s been a long time since you’ve made a move.”

Harvard Business Review: How to Set Healthy Boundaries When Starting a New Job. “Starting a new job can be both nerve-wracking and invigorating. By setting strong boundaries from the start, you set yourself up for sustainable success over the long-run.”

Blog Posts & Opinions

The New York Times: Guest Essay: Elite Universities Are Out of Touch. Blame the Campus. “The university shouldn’t be made indistinguishable from other institutions. That would mean replacing its much-needed critical instinct with conformism and commercialization. But it badly needs more integration with society, and the best way to do that is to knock down some of the many barriers that separate it from the world outside.”

Forbes: Small Business: What My Immigrant Parents Taught Me About The American Dream. “If my parents taught me anything, it’s that everyone should feel empowered to pursue their dreams. Even though I have learned that no one’s journey to the American dream is guaranteed or certain, new institutions that understand the grit and resolve behind entrepreneurship are increasing the chances of success.” [KJ Note: Thomson is a client, friend and stellar human being. He kindly agreed to let me post his piece here.]

Prosci: 10 Tips From Psychology Every Change Leader Should Know. “Can people actually change? In psychology, there’s a concept called “plaster versus plastic,” which was hotly debated by scholars. Are we like plaster in that we “set” at a certain age, and we can’t change after that? Or are we like plastic, where we actually can change? After much research and debate over the years, we learned from psychology that yes, people of all ages do have the ability to change.”

Podcasts

On Being with Krista Tippett: adrienne maree brown: “We are in a time of new suns.” “‘What a time to be alive,’ adrienne maree brown has written. ‘Right now we are in a fast river together — every day there are changes that seemed unimaginable until they occurred’…This conversation shines a light on an emerging ecosystem in our world over and against the drumbeat of what is fractured and breaking: working with the complex fullness of reality, and cultivating old and new ways of seeing, to move towards a transformative wholeness of living.”

TEDxIEMadrid: The Secret To Mastering Life’s Biggest Transitions. “How do you navigate life’s growing number of transitions with meaning, purpose and skill? Writer Bruce Feiler offers a powerful way to handle uncertain, painful and confusing times — or “lifequakes”, as he calls them. Learn how to equip yourself with the essential tools and mindset to ride out (and rewrite) the toughest chapters of your life story, and turn unease and upheaval into growth and renewal.”

Harvard Business Review: Hershey CEO Michele Buck on Empowering Internal Change Agents. “Michele Buck is the first female CEO in The Hershey Company’s history, and the company has been recognized as one of America’s most female-friendly corporations. One of her most interesting innovations involves tapping internal change agents, sometimes bypassing normal leadership hierarchy. She identified employees who had shown ‘an ability to see where trends were headed.’ She put them in small groups to tackle big initiatives, pairing them with people who had strong executive skills. ‘I made sure that we listened to their thinking on this, because I think a lot of times those really disruptive thinkers can get shut down.'”

Arts, Music, Culture, Literature & Humor Corner

The New York Times: An Irish National Treasure Gets Set for a Long-Needed Restoration. “The majestic Old Library at Trinity College Dublin, where some of Ireland’s most ancient and valuable books are stored, is a popular tourist attraction.”

The New Yorker: The Gospel According to Mavis Staples. “A legendary singer on faith, loss, and a family legacy.”

The New Yorker: How Kevins Got a Bad Rap in France. “Like to-go coffee or athleisure, the name strikes certain French people as a gauche Anglo-Saxon import—and some Kevins want to change that.”

The New Yorker Fiction: Roy Spivey.

McSweeney’s: My Favorite Controlled Substance is Daycare. “Someday, when she’s old enough to understand, will I tell my daughter I did daycare? Will I admit that, before she was even old enough to attend school, I frittered away the equivalent of her in-state college tuition on daycare, chasing the forbidden ecstasy of stability, structure, and shared work? Maybe this is the hit of daycare I just did talking, but yes, absolutely I will.”

Reflections

“A friend of mine said to me: “What is it that haunts you?” I can tell you exactly what haunts me, now. It’s the sense of my days running through my fingers like the finest sand, and I can’t stop it.” — John O’Donohue

“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt…You have an obligation to play the hell out of the [cards] you’re holding.” — Cheryl Strayed

“How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” — Jerry Colonna

 

 

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan is an International Coach Federation-certified executive coach who serves as a strategic advisor, mentor and facilitator to executive leadership teams and private clients to achieve peak performance and agility resulting in sustained engagement and value. Drawing upon a career as a leader and consultant, Kevin is able to work with clients on personal and professional development, relationship optimization and team and leader dynamics. He has deep expertise and experience developing and realizing strategic vision through a relentless focus on optimized business operations. He is also skilled at building sustainable culture and workforce engagement through the power of people and organizational partnership, as well as delivering results and value with high performing teams during periods of intense change.

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