The Art Of Navigating TransitionsBy Tiffany Stewart
Mar. 13 2015, Published 3:30 a.m. ET
Dr. Tim Elmore along with his colleagues have created the series Habitudes For The Journey—Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes to help us as leaders grow and leverage our influence effectively and positively in the world.
Dr. Elmore states that “each transition is an opportunity to establish great habits, make great choices and meet great people….or an opportunity to absolutely fail at all of this.” Essentially, his goal is to help us get to where we want to go and to live out our purpose fruitfully.
Realizing that we now live in an image dominated world, Dr. Elmore uses images such as a rearview mirror, a compass, a fuel gauge and many more to leave an impression on us visual learners. Author Leonard Sweet says that images are the language of the 21st century, not words. We remember pictures long after words have left us. Sociologists describe this generation as EPIC: Experiential, Participatory, Image-driven and Connected. If that is true, Dr. Elmore hopes that his use of images throughout this book will become signposts that guide us, warn us, and inform us on our leadership journey.
As someone who has gone through some major transitions recently, this book offered a lot of helpful life skills and tips to establish great habits and make great choices. Some of the chapters cover topics such as Backseat Drivers, Shortcut or Second Mile, and The Destination vs. the Trip just to name a few. Two of my favorite chapters are ‘Tollbooths or Roadblocks’ and ‘Pass On The Left.’
‘Tollbooths or Roadblocks’ touches upon us interacting with challenges that requires us to rise to the occasion. Many of these challenges are unavoidable and that is when we have to become tollbooths and progress through, at any cost, or become stuck without anyway through like a roadblock.
As young adults, this is a dilemma that we will face many times throughout our lives. For me, I was faced with the ‘tollbooths or roadblocks’ dilemma post-grad school. I had yet to find a permanent job in my career field and I had to choose between staying in an expensive apartment that I couldn’t afford without a permanent job or move back home and work at a good paying job not in my field. It was a hard pill to swallow because to me, moving back home meant no longer progressing. But it was completely the opposite. The desire to not be stuck in my current situation pushed me to find opportunities to interact with business in my career field while being financially comfortable.
Further, this chapter wants us to learn an important lesson. You may not get to choose where you go, but you always get to choose how you’ll travel. We can decide to engage our challenges with passion, to fully commit to a goal, to overcome the setbacks we face, and to enjoy the journey along the way. I saw my situation as a one-way path but it turned out to be anything but.
Another chapter titled ‘Pass On the Left’ explains that you will notice along your journey, people that you once referred to as friends no longer play a position in your life. That’s okay. When you grow in new directions, be sure to pass others appropriately, making sure you burn no bridges along the way. Psychologists consider the process of “de-friending” an inevitable life stage, where people achieve enough maturity and self-awareness to know who they are and what they want out of their remaining years.
Going from high school, away to college and then away to grad school, it was hard for me to remain “close” to all those friends I have made over the years. I couldn’t decide who to let stay close to me. Dr. Elmore poses questions such as “do they bring out the best in me? Are they a positive influence?” and “do we both make an effort?” I realized that although we weren’t friends like we were once were, it was also okay to remain cordial with them.
What I found unique about this book as opposed to other leadership books I’ve read in the past is that at the end of each chapter, there are a set of questions to further your understanding. You can also assess yourself and do exercises to apply the material to your life while moving forward along your journey.
Although Habitudes for the Journey is geared towards freshman, transfer and senior college students, Dr. Elmore provides information that is valuable to all going through any transition period into unknown territory. Those that are making huge adjustments in their lives can benefit from the advice found in this book.