Life in Transition: Attention and Intention

Transitions are challenging for all of us when they require change, especially when changing habits that we are really comfortable with. Whether it’s waking from a sound sleep or returning to work after a vacation, or moving from a mid-level leader role to a first-time executive role, transitions challenge our ability to be aware of changes that need to take place and options that are available to us.

Here’s a simple example: Waking from a sound sleep to the alarm and the routine of a new day is a transition. We know we have to get to work, so we try habits that allow us to transition as smoothly and efficiently as possible. We make choices about how we will use our time, where we will focus our attention, what decisions we need to make, and what resources we need to meet our timeline for the day. If you have kids, pets and others for whom you are responsible, the transition from asleep to fully awake becomes even more complicated. (And let’s admit it, not all of us make that shift easily, even if we are only responsible for ourselves, but if you want to stay employed, one way or another, you sort of have to shift from sleeping to waking. Just saying.)

Transitions test our resilience and our resourcefulness. In order to transition to a new role, for example, you have to consider what it is that you will take with you from your previous role and what you will leave behind.  If you are transitioning from managing direct employees to managing managers, your style of leadership, where you focus your attention, and how you orient your communications and decision-making will be different.

Transitions require attention and intention. In order to show up the way you want to show up in a new role, self-awareness is imperative as well as knowledge about what the role requires for success. For example, if you are aware of your strengths, you are more apt to observe how you might adapt new behaviors for your strengths to serve you best in the new role. 

A former client of mine noticed that once she had the VP title, she spent a lot more time in meetings and had a lot less time to get work done.  She had to change the way she oriented and planned her day, and her communication with her team also had to be more laser-focused. The good news was that her new direct reports were pretty competent in their roles. But they needed her to do less and think ahead more, even though her comfort zone was in the trenches, providing answers and direction.

Executive coaching is a resource for those in transition. As a learning partner, your coach can support you as you learn to navigate uncharted waters between where you are today and where you want to be in the future.