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Autumn Transitions

I love summer. And I love fall. Every year, as summer gives in to fall, I have trouble deciding which I love more.

Outside my window, lush green has (finally) become crisp and colored-in.
I’ve traded in my iced tea for steamy mugs of chamomile and chai.
My cardigans and boots have returned from their place-in-waiting.
My husband and I hung up our kayaks and fishing rods and took the kids to a corn maze and a hayride.

It’s a process of letting go of one good thing in order to welcome another. Each ending…a beginning.

Don’t the seasons handle transitions with such grace? How gracefully and majestically Autumn is ushered in.

A perfect invitation for us. An invitation to consider how we wish to handle the seasons and transitions in our leadership and in our lives.

Both in our personal and professional lives, seasons and transitions, we know, are inevitable. William Bridges in his wonderful book, Managing Transitions, Making the Most of Change draws this distinction between change and transition:

Change is external, something that happens to us. Change can happen very quickly.
Transition is internal; a sometimes slow, psychological process we move through as we process a change and what it means to us / for us.

Think about the changes that you (or others) may be facing:

  • Adding a new team member.
  • Losing a team member.
  • Facing a shift in priorities or direction.
  • Training / learning a new job.
  • Working with a new manager or new co-workers.
  • Moving to a new office, or perhaps a new home.

These types of changes are typically scheduled, time-based events. For example:

  • The start date arrives and the new team member enters our daily lives.
  • The end date arrives and a co-workers ceases to be in our daily lives.


As you may have learned from past experiences, the situational changes are not as difficult to make as the psychological transitions of those of us impacted by the change. With the change imminent or upon us, we enter the transition process. The transition process involves three major aspects that are important for leaders to understand.

Every transition begins with an ending. Click To Tweet


The Ending: something in our lives will no longer be as it was. I may be losing someone or something that is valuable to me.

The Neutral Zone: We spend time in the neutral zone as we process the impact of the change. This is a place of uncertainty and often ambiguity. It can also be a place of creativity and intentional, generative conversations.

The Beginning: Embracing the new reality.

I highly recommend reading Bridges’ book (linked above) to learn more.

Change is about the outcome. Transition is about the journey. Click To Tweet

“Transition management is all about seeing the situation through the eyes of the other guy. It is a perspective based on empathy. It is management and communication process that recognizes and affirms people’s realities and works with them to bring them through the transition.” – Stephen Warrilow,

As we give ourselves and our co-workers the space (and the empathy) to work through the inner changes necessary to support the external or circumstantial changes, we build connection and trust; two crucial qualities which are often lacking during times of ‘change.’

How does the idea of ‘change’ shift for you when you think about engaging others in authentic conversation about the transitions we’re each moving through?

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