Today’s post is the featured article from the May 2009 issue of  The Front Porch Newsletter.  If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.

john-newWhen people chill on the “front porch” they usually chat about whatever has been on their mind. Recently, transitions have been on my mind. And I have been thinking a lot about them this past week. In these last seven days I have attended my daughter Kelly’s high school graduation from Naperville Central High School and then the final game of her high school soccer career as a Redhawk. Those of you parents with athletic children will know which of those two events was the most emotional!

I have also been thinking a lot about transitions because they are everywhere. I have seen numerous friends experiencing them. In job loss. In lost marriages. In the loss of loved ones. And like Kelly, many just experiencing transition simply in the natural course of life. Loss and departures don’t hold a monopoly on transition. Transition is just as much about addition as it is about subtraction. A new school. A new job. A new marriage. A new community. But transitions of additions or subtractions have similar bottom-lines … they can both be tricky to navigate!

While, at times, transition can certainly feel lonely … rarely are you alone. Nor rarely are you the only one impacted by your own transition. As I watched Kelly leave the soccer field this week, I knew the tearful emotions were somewhat about a tough 1-0 loss in the state playoffs … but most importantly the tears were about friendship and respect. Respect for great coaches and friendship with teammates … especially three of them she had played with since she was 8-years old.

When Tim Sanders (author of Love: The Killer App, The Likeablity Factor and Saving the World at Work) endorsed my book, Silent Alarm, I was especially struck by one sentence in his testimonial: “You will find the world as calm as you are connected.” Those words are so true … and especially true in a time of transition.

The very thing that makes transition so difficult is the very thing that helps us through it. That is relationships … and the depth of those relationships. Successful transitions have everything to do with relationships.

Graduation is not called a “commencement exercise” by accident. Graduation feels like an ending … yet commencement is defined as a “beginning.” Maybe that is why those terms are used interchangeably to describe the same event … both are true!

Transition provides unique opportunities for us to learn about ourselves. That’s because transitions, in the midst of a simultaneous ending and beginning, most often create vulnerability. In the midst of that vulnerability, our personal veneer is often ripped away. It provides us (and frankly others) a deeper insight into who we really are. You might think of transition as providing somewhat of an x-ray of our heart, mind and soul. Most never put the x-ray up to the light! They just reactively plod their way through the transition.

The magic in transition is when we can simultaneously look to the future while celebrating the past and being ever-present to the lessons of the transition itself. Successful transitions have everything to do with being intentional.

Transition also provides a unique opportunity for alignment. As we leave behind and begin anew, we have an incredible opportunity to reset numerous choices. We can leave the baggage of old choices at the door. If there was one thing that became clear to me in writing GOOD to the CORE it was that alignment becomes impossible unless we truly understand the values with which we are hoping to align.

When our core values are vague, alignment is impossible and transitions truly become a lost opportunity. Successful transitions have everything to do with re-alignment.

You may be reading this thinking you are not in a time of significant transition. And so you may be thinking this isn’t relevant at the moment. I would suggest maybe it applies to you more than anyone. When better to think about relationships, values and the lessons of past transitions … as you await the inevitable storm of your next transition!

And if you are in the midst of transition … what better time than to recommit to relationships, become incredibly intentional as you live this transition, and clearly articulate the core values that will provide you a refreshing realignment!