I work with transitions all the time — people weighing job changes, a different career, edging toward retirement, the sale or purchase of a business, the launch of a venture. I generally welcome transitions — especially purposeful and intentional ones — in that they burn our platform and summon us to consider our real worth, a more ideal path for our gifts. If nothing else, they can overturn our wastebasket of complacency.
Some transitions, though, hone the senses of what it means to move from one station in life to another. Within the span of one week, and all within my circle of relationships, there were four losses of family members, three of them mothers, one of which was my own (she passed away peacefully after a long, fruitful life of 92 years, with her sense of humor still strutting its stuff to the end).
These moments, these passings — whether professional, organizational, or deeply personal — prompt me to consider the lenses or perspectives that we ought to train on our lives.
The first is the view forward. I have worked with several clients recently seeking to create, refresh or redirect their vision for their enterprise. It is an invigorating exercise to visualize and take bold strokes to paint something that does not yet exist. I consider this vision, this forward view, the what of our lives.
The second is our view in the moment. It is this urgent need today to be present wherever we are, to be wired in — immersed — with the now, and to have a curiosity about, an engagement in, an impact on the world around us. As my executive coach puts it in a business context, it is about what people become when they are in your presence. And for that to happen you have to be present in all ways. I see this second view as the how.
The third is a lens trained backward. We may hew to the mantra “Never look back” but our mark, our fingerprints, our real value and purpose are measured by the character, quality and value of what remains after we have passed that way. It is the answer to the question “How do others know we were here?” To accept that we will have a legacy — and that legacy is more the way we have changed lives for the better, the crafting of which starts in the now — is to understand the why of our lives.
We need not wait for a transition to peer through 0these three lenses, but to miss the need to do so is to dare missing the views.