A New Lens into Life’s Biggest Moments.
“I see so much more now,” said Arthur, a mid-fifties software engineer who participated in my research on the inevitable shifts that occur in our adult lives. What struck me about his statement was that Arthur had a degenerative eye condition that left him 100% sight impaired.
His profound statement summarizes the research I conducted over the past decade on shifts in our thinking about who we are and how we make meaning in the world. The work revealed an incredible opportunity; those willing to alter their response to major life shifts could experience a significant positive inflection point in their lives - guaranteed.
Folks like Arthur talked with me about a wide variety of life’s most important moments, from an unexpected layoff or a health crisis to a breakup or the arrival of a long-anticipated milestone, like a special birthday or a promotion. My research revealed that we as a society lack the vocabulary for what is occurring at these moments and that our skills to navigate them are underdeveloped.
Consider Arthur. His initial reaction to his lessening sight was to make changes. He went out less and less. He withdrew from others. His world became very small.
When faced with disruption in our lives, we often, like Arthur, reach for change. With change, we alter particulars to address the disruption, a choice in favor of re-establishing stability in our buffeted self-concept. At times of upheaval, change serves as a protective response.
At such times, transitions offer a different pathway. Transitions occur when there is a shift in what holds value and meaning to us. With this choice, we welcome instability for a time. Said Arthur, “I now see that transition had nothing to do with my sight. My transition was all about seeing value in myself. It was not about losing my sight, per se. It was about who I am.”
Modern Elder Academy creates the space for conversations about how we might respond to the shifts in our self-concept that occur repeatedly over the arc of our lives.
Arthur sums it up, “A great gift has been given to me. My connections to others are radically different now. My world is bigger than before.”
To learn more about Arthur’s story, read my most recent book, Dancing with Disruption.
Linda Rossetti is a business leader, Harvard MBA, and social entrepreneur who is dedicated to changing how we respond to upheaval in our careers and in our lives. She runs The Transition Institute, LLC, a consultancy that collaborates on research and certifies others on transformational methods, and hosts the podcast, Destination Unknown.