Endings and beginnings

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

The lyrics from Semisonic’s song “Closing Time”( video link ) vividly describe the emotions of change and provide direction for each of us, as leaders, as we respond to the challenges we face in higher education. Yesterday I was working with a group of our campus leaders on the topic Leading Teams during Change. We used William Bridge’s work on transitions as our framework. (Bridges, William. Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change. Da Capo Press. 2009.) Bridges defines transition as the internal or personal adjustment we all go through in response to change, any change! It is a predictable and natural response that all people have and understanding it can help you, as a leader, support your people during the changes required to succeed in the new landscape.

As Semisonic’s lyrics remind us, the internal reaction to change, or transition, starts with an ending. Some other beginning’s ending to be specific! When we, as leaders, are talking about new opportunities or the most effective way to move forward the rest of our team is reacting to what is ending or what they will be losing because of the change. In fact, they likely feel pride in what they have been doing and the change can feel like a threat to all their hard work and past success.

Bridges encourages us to start with those endings and to acknowledge that our team members are facing a loss or a need to let go of something. As a leader being clear about what is ending will help you and your team move forward more effectively.

Ask yourself and your team, what is ending for us? What will we need to let go of? And, what isn’t ending? What will stay the same for us after the change? Being clear about “some other beginning’s end” will get you to the next “new beginning”!

Todd Thorsgaard

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