Change is hard for everyone. No matter the circumstances.
It’s hard for an individual when change they didn’t choose is foisted upon them. It’s even hard for individuals when it’s a change they are choosing—that will still require adjustments, new habits, and likely a different frame of mind. It’s always easier to stay with the status quo. But it’s not always better. Change provides the opportunity for new growth. It’s like moving to a new city or starting a new job. You will need to adjust, but the effort can certainly be worth it.
It’s the same for organizations. Sometimes change is thrust upon them—a beloved leader retires. Other times, organizations choose change—say an attempt to be more relevant to the community they’re serving. But in either case it’s still going to be hard, and in organizations you have the added complication of not everyone being on the same page. Some may think the change is worth it and has been too long in coming. Others may want to hold fast to the old ways, believing they are better.
The reality is that there is always change. Our job as coaches is to help people count the cost, accept it, embrace it, and decide what part they want in it. What are they willing to do and what are they not? Often there’s an emotional foundation that the coach will need to address that goes beyond any logic or reason on the surface of things.
Change vs. Transition
The following is an excerpt from a recent post about managing change on my Logan Leadership blog. If you are interested, you can read the entire post HERE.
Change itself often happens almost instantaneously. However, our process of dealing with that change can take much longer. We’ve lived through this when COVID everything shut down in March 2020. Almost everything changed all at once. Shopping, medical care, work, church gatherings, social connections, etc. This adjustment process takes longer and is more intense for bigger changes, but all change requires a process.
Transitions include psychological, mental, emotional, and spiritual processes for dealing with change. Changes can be positive, negative, neutral or mixed, big or small. But they all require some degree of adjustment on our part.
I’ve found Bridges Transitions Model especially helpful. He considers the three phases of change: Endings, Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings.
When something changes, we have a lot to let go of. We have old habits and elements of our lives that won’t happen anymore. Many of these endings result in losses, sometimes significant losses. We usually build our lives with elements that bring us joy and love and the structure to get various things that we need. When those elements are gone, life becomes more difficult for us on many levels.
As things end, we enter a space that this chart calls the Neutral Zone. The Neutral Zone is a difficult place where old things have ended but new things haven’t yet become established. Time in the Neutral Zone can be sad, confusing, and difficult. We are mourning losses at the same time as trying to figure out how to move forward. When we stop trying to find a way back to the things in life that have ended, we are able to move into things that are ready to begin.
Once we have done the work in the Neutral Zone, we can move into New Beginnings. If we don’t do the work in the Neutral Zone though, we can never really transition into our New Beginnings. When we have mourned our losses, we are ready to welcome new people and new experiences into our lives again. When we have broken our old habits, we are prepared to develop new ones. When we stop looking for apples in the old aisle, we can get them where they are now.
Big takeaway #1
Change is sudden. Transition is slow. And this is all normal. That’s what transition looks like for everyone. We need to take the time to adjust, to mourn, and to envision what a new future could look like.
Big takeaway #2
God works miracles in the Neutral Zone. The biblical words for the Neutral Zone are the wilderness or the desert. We see a lot of places in scripture where people are out in the wilderness and amazing things happen: Jesus spending forty days in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry. The Israelites spending forty years in the wilderness, wandering through the Neutral Zone. Paul’s time of blindness after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. All of these were times of transition and adjustment to a new reality.
Transition is difficult, but it can lead to hope for a brighter future. There is hope in moving forward.
Many of you who know me know my fondness for Barnabas. He’s my favorite character in the Bible. Barnabas was the “son of encouragement”—someone who encourages, supports, and spurs on. It’s someone who challenges when needed, listens, and asks good questions. A Barnabas wants others to succeed and connects them with the resources they need to do so. Much of my coaching philosophy is modeled after Barnabas. Your leaders REALLY need a Barnabas during times of transition.
In the Neutral Zone, coaches with the heart of Barnabas can help people reflect on where they currently are, help them discover what God is up to, give them a chance to draw close to God, and discern his leading to begin figuring out what’s next.
Resources for Transitions
Want to know more about coaching like Barnabas? Start with Becoming Barnabas. This short book outlines the powerful principles found in Barnabas’ ministry. Got a big change coming up? Train up a team of people to act as Barnabas within your ministry. The Barnabas Ministry Training Kit has everything you need.
Coaching Resources for Change Management
I’ve found the Resource Zone materials on Change Management helpful as I coached people in making and changes. The Change Management Effectiveness Profile* will help you determine where to target your development activities in order to improve skills. The Change Management Skills Builder* helps you walk people through major life changes at work or at home. The Change Management Coaching Guide and Storyboard* offers both an overview of the change process and coaching questions that provide the depth necessary to transformative learning.
*links go to loganleadership.com
If all of this sounds wonderful and you want to be a part of helping others manage change but don’t feel equipped to do so… it’s time to be trained as a coach. The Christian Coaching Essentials Cohort is designed to equip you with all you need to know to start coaching. Bob and Gary walk you and your peers through foundational principles and get you practicing right away. The next cohort begins in just a few weeks! Learn more HERE.
You’ve got the basics down and have been coaching for a while. You are seeing some traction in your coaching ministry but feel like if your skills were more honed, you could be more effective. It’s time to intentionally move towards coaching excellence. The Coaching Excellence Track combines assessment with one-on-one mentoring and group webinars. Five coaching sessions will be dedicated to strengthening areas that your 360° Christian Coach Assessment targeted as needs for development. An Excellence Cohort is starting soon. Learn more HERE!