Sad, confused?

Tom’s Journal-January 6, 2008
…and so the good Doctor Gupta looked at me squarely and spoke these difficult to hear words, “You need a new valve.” My brain could only think “car?”…He discussed the need for open heart surgery to replace my existing aortic valve, explaining that I had been born (and had lived almost 60 years) with a bicuspid valve (two cusps or openings instead of the requisite three), and now this valve I had always ignored but counted on, was failing.

I felt blindsided. I was an athlete my whole life; the very day before I ran 6 miles. This protest was quickly brought short, however, by the expert’s words, “Sometimes, the first symptom of this condition is a fatal heart attack.”

And so a week later, I sit here in the big blue chair overlooking our snow–covered backyard, looking out to the hawthorne tree with its white–capped frozen berries, strangely calm—and feeling inspired to move ahead with more purpose in my life.

Reflections for Work

Transitions guru William Bridges, has a useful model for identifying the emotions during endings, middles (neutral zone) and beginnings of a career transition. Yes, the endings can be full of shock, grief, fear, anger and denial. But Bridges also says this period can be characterized by acceptance as you move ahead. When that happens on a substantive level, good things take place. Elkhart Tolle says this acceptance takes us away from negativism to a place he calls “True Being.” When that happens, possibilities for growth e.g. meaningful work, are limitless. And the energy, resources and spirit to carry out a successful transition can be realized.

As we move from acceptance to confusion, complexity and sometimes immobility in the neutral or middle stage of transition, Bridges assures us that “seeds of hope” are being sown. Hope comes from realizing that there is more to our situation than meets the eye. Paula D’Arcy in her Lenten publication, Daybreaks, writes, “…there is a truer nature within me…a true self. This nature precedes my birth and isn’t bound by emotions, body or mind. It is clear and free, the same substance as God—the same essence as love.”

And I believe it is this “essence of love” which helps move us forward from crisis and uncertainty–to a place of confidence and hope.


What do you have to do in this “ending” part of your work in order to get to that place of acceptance? And eventually move to hope and confidence?

Reflect on the shock you felt when a change at work was “heaped on you.” Turn it around in your heart and head all which ways but try hard to not let it overwhelm you.

Where can your “true self” which contains “God’s love” be found and how will it move you forward?

*This TranSpirations focuses on the relationship between Tom’s journaling about his successful heart surgery in 2008 and possible lessons for career/work/retirement transitions.

Thomas Bachhuber, Ed.D., President of the Board and Executive DirectorThomas Bachhuber, Ed.D.
President of the Board and Executive Director for The Center for Life Transitions. Tom is responsible for overall Center leadership and strategy. His individual coaching/counseling as well as workshops and retreats focus on integrating leading career development ideas with spiritual exploration. Read more.