Last night I went to the opening match of this year’s Australian Football League (AFL) season. My team, the Richmond Tigers were playing – but that’s not the point of this post (although it could be, and may well be one day soon – a post on hope and expectation). No, this is a post about transitions.
Matthew Richardson was an amazing footballer. He played with Richmond for 17 years, and what made him stand out – apart from his incredible talent – was his heart. His emotions were on show for all to see. During the off season he retired due to niggling injuries.That meant he didn’t have the big farewell. So last night he did the lap of honour and we got to cheer and clap and shed the odd tear at his retirement.
What struck me was the transparency of the transition. A few months ago he was a player, now he’s retired. Some transitions are visible – marriage, divorce, retirements, switching jobs, moving house. Some are not so visible. Some transitions are incremental – they creep up and without any conscious plan you’re suddenly in a new place.
Organisations too have visible and invisible transitions. Merges, takeovers, office relocations are visible and restructures and change management programs are announced so everyone is aware of what’s happening. Or are they?
It seems to me that we are always in transition – and if we’re not, we’re stuck. Maybe that’s true of organisations too, although they seem to strive for something else. Something unatainable – security, surity, to be stable and predictable. And in trying to strive for what’s not possible to achieve they lose sight of what’s possible – of being adaptable and creative, of being able to respond to the changing demands of an unpredicatable environment.
Personally, I’ve been in a major transition phase for well over a year now. Today it became clear that I want to be a disruptor. No longer am I prepared to play the old, finite games where there are winners and losers (that’s best left to the likes of the Richmond Tigers who could certainly do with a bit more winning, and definitely understand what it’s like to lose). I’m still not completely clear what i want to do – but I am very clear what I don’t want to do. This is an invisible transition.
The times we’re now living in, the pace of change, the demands for new skills and a different way of viewing the world all point to a state of constant flux. A state many are uncomfortable with. Maybe we need to see transitions as redundant and the state of constant relearning and discovery as the new normal.