Change, Please?

Steven Graduates

David celebrates a student's graduation.

If there’s one things that’s predictable, it’s that things are going to change. And when a change occurs, there is often a transition that follows!

Another predictable thing is that changes create a time in between the ending of the old and the beginning of the new. Cherokee Creek Boys School calls this space a “neutral zone,” a name adopted from William Bridges work on the process of transitions.

We have all felt the “neutral zone.” It can be exciting or confusing. It can feel like chaos or be filled with anticipation. Whatever the feelings are, they are stronger than when things are just routine or predictable. I am a creature of habit as much as anyone, and those feelings that are associated with change sure can make me uncomfortable.

The question I hear (and sometimes ask myself) is: How can I get out of the neutral zone and into the new way of being? Another way of asking this question could be: How can I get past all of these uncomfortable and magnified feelings quickly?

Since change is happening all the time, chances are that you are in a neutral zone in some area of your life right now. What are you being challenged with in the neutral zone? Here are a few questions you can ask to help turn the neutral zone into a place of self-discovery…

What must I put down in order to move forward?

What point of view is shifting?

What is it that I believed that no longer fits me?

Before we are in a rush to the new place, let’s see what can be learned while we are in the neutral zone!

“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” – Robert C. Gallagher

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posted by Shaler Black Cooper in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (3)

In-Between

Prepared for a transition! Steve readying his climbing gear for a river crossing.

Prepared for a transition! Steve readying his climbing gear for a river crossing.

Steve and I found a cliff that had never been climed before! Looking through our binoculars we estimated the cliff was about 200 feet high. We wanted badly to be the first climbers to explore the steep cracks and faces, so we marched straight for it. About 100 yards before we reached the cliff we came upon a river that was deep, wide and running swiftly. We walked up and down looking for a way across with all of our gear. Disappointed, we turned back knowing there would be no climbing that day.

We had known where we were starting, and where we were going. We were well equipped for our destination, but had overlooked the territory in-between. Failing to anticipate the transition between where we were and where we were prepared to go only cost us a day of climbing. Imagine what overlooking a transition in other life situations might cost…

William Bridges describes the space in-between old ways and new ways as Neutral Zones. A Neutral Zone stands between where you have been and where you want to be. Anticipating, preparing and deliberately taking the time to cross the Neutral Zone can make the journey much more pleasant and will ensure your arrival.

The challenge for all of us is to spend time preparing for the neutral zone, just like we do for our destination!

The very next weekend my climbing partner and I better anticipated the transition, carried a small inflatable raft out to the river, took our time crossing, and arrived on the other side ready to begin our adventure!

David LePere is the Executive Director of Cherokee Creek Boys School, a therapeutic boarding school for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.

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posted by Shaler Black Cooper in Discovering What is Real and True and have No Comments