Are you familiar with the popular Transformers comic book series and movies?
The Transformers storyline focuses on an ongoing battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons (good vs. evil is the general focus).
But what’s particularly fascinating about the Transformer series is the transformation process itself.
As I’ve gotten older, this process of moving from one part of my life, or from one job to another, or from one part of my career to another, has been unsure sometimes, awkward at other times, and occasionally painful.
I’ve somehow moved through those transitions and you have too.
For the rockier transitions, we both have probably wondered later on how we could’ve maybe managed it a bit more smoothly.
Let’s get back to the Transformers and why this comic book/movie series is relevant to the idea of transitions as something we can manage maybe with a little more grace.
The TFWiki.net has a great explanation of how the robots transform:
The term "transformation scheme" refers specifically to the way in which the parts of an individual Transformer move and shift in relation to each other during transformation.
(Isn’t that cool? They actually have a transformation scheme!)
And, in most cases, the process of transformation is just something that occurs.
The Wiki goes on to say:
When the issue is addressed at all, transformation is usually treated as an innovation from some point early in Cybertronian history rather than something that was literally always with them.
The Transformers were, at the time of their genesis, simply Cybertronians — mechanical life-forms — and became "Transformers" only later.
However, just as often in Transformers fiction the "origin" of transforming is simply not discussed.
We as humans also have a transformation scheme, although we may not realize it.
I’ve been reading a great book recently, “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes” by William Bridges (hat tip to Janine Finnell), which talks about the many kinds of transitions we all experience as humans, including transitions in relationships and in our work lives.
Bridges gives an overview of transitions in action and also detailed “signposts” for each stage of a transition.
Bridges describes three stages of transitions – essentially our “transformation scheme”:
The Ending – Bridges highlights the five ways that signify when something has “ended” – disengagement, dismantling, disidentification, disenchantment, and disorientation – and that the ending may not always be immediately obvious. In other instances, disruption happens to us.And there are patterns that we develop.As Bridges says, “We all develop our own typical response to ending things.”
The Neutral Zone – This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of transitions, and Bridges describes how this paradoxical stage lays the groundwork for beginning again, in stage 3. It is a place of chaos and a place of self-transformation. All you wanted was a little help in climbing out of the strange crack between life’s floorboards that you unexpectedly fell into. Well, first you’ve got to understand what you’re doing there, and then you’ve got to see why it’s important to stay there a while – and we can talk about what to do.
The New Beginning – The third stage is about starting something new, and the book offers insights for realizing when you’re ready to do that. This internal work is what it’s all about, Bridges says: General beginnings depend on this kind of inner realignment rather than on external shifts…
He also talks about the resistance we sometimes have to transitions:
It is important to distinguish between a real new beginning and a simple defensive reaction to an ending….The defensive reaction is simply a new way of perpetuating the old situation and needs to be considered as such.
We probably are a bit more like the Transformers than we realize. In fact, nature has this kind of transformation scheme built in – think about the caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly process.
The key is to realize when a transition is occurring and let ourselves experience the stage that we’re at.
Bonus link: Thanks to the inspiration from this recent article on the Six Seconds blog post, which talks about stepping forward to create positive change in our world today through EQ.