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General Leadership Navy Stories

Embrace the Transitions

Transitions are hard. They always have been and likely always will be. Some call it change, but what is change if nothing but a transition from one set of knowns to another set of knowns?

Transitions are hard. They always have been and likely always will be. Some call it change, but what is change if nothing but a transition from one set of knowns to another set of knowns? Anything that disturbs or disrupts the ‘flow’ we have established for ourselves, our own formulated reality as it were, prompts a reaction from our psyche that tends to either go along fully and willingly or dig our heels in and fight.

Our lives, however, are built around transitions, essentially from day one. Although we may not have a recollection of it, our birth is likely the biggest transition we will suffer, equaled, fittingly enough, only by our death. An abrupt and sudden shift from the warm, muffled darkness to the harsh brightness of life outside the womb is certainly shocking. However, that in itself is our first exposure to a life filled with transitions.

As we proceed from childhood, the subtle and likely transitions continue, both physically and mentally. We are shaped both in body and in mind by our surroundings, our influencers and the physiological processes of growth. Oftentimes, we and those around us are relatively unaware of the transitions. Think back to your youth and how, at a family gathering, a relative you hadn’t seen for a few years will remark at how much you had grown and changed. These are the transitions of life, both unavoidable and uncontrollable.

But what about those transitions we can control, the planned and executed transitions that enact in our own behalf? How do we let those affect us and do they alter what could have been a predetermined path of life? How often do we consciously and unconsciously throw rocks into the pond of our lives, causing ripples that alter the state of our surface?

I was recently asked on a podcast (Logocentrifugal if you want a link) about transitions and what was the hardest one I had endured. It was a great question that led me to these thoughts. I answered quickly and honestly. My transition from active duty military to civilian life after 24 years. Why? For the simplest of reasons but a reason that serves as a perfect metaphor for transition. It was simply hard for me to pick out clothes. I had no idea how to match clothes, the latest styles, what men were wearing. Seriously.

Think about it. For 24 plus years, I had not had to even think or consider what I was wearing to work. It was a uniform, coveralls or a flight suit. That’s it. Gym clothes for PT, the work. At home, when I was there, was shorts and T shirts or jeans and polos. That’s all I knew. So when I had to step into the work world, dressed as a professional in a civilian workplace, it was hard. My wife was wonderful with her taste and styles, and it worked. For about 6 months, I had pants and shirts on hangers labeled with day of the week. Like Garanimals from years ago.

So transition is a part of life. From day one to the last day and beyond, for all we know. Don’t fight change, don’t fight those essential transitions in your life. Embrace them as necessary, as a lesson and as a means to a hopefully better end.

Semper Fortis

Chief Chuck