Vera: Congratulations on your book, ‘Women and Transition.’ How are you defining transition here and why to focus on women?
Linda: Vera, thank you for your kind words. Women & Transition has been a labor of love! It is a 5-star rated Amazon Top Seller with more than 60 reviews from women all around the world. The book is based on my own personal transition and the transition stories of more than 250 women who spoke with me about their experiences in transition. My work is focused on changing the conversation about transition. Transitions occur when there is a shift in what holds value or meaning to us. It asks us to re-evaluate ‘who we are’ and ‘how we make meaning in the world.’ For those who navigate transition, it is an exciting – and at times challenging – process that delivers unparalleled gifts such as joy and peace and enlivenment. Both men and women can transition. My focus on women stems from my belief that women’s complex roles in society deposit us at the opportunity to transition time and again over the arc of our lives. In fact, >90% of women polled through my research believed that they would transition within the next five years. Here is a YouTube video that serves as a solid introduction to Transition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJTTUkErmq0
Vera: How does transition differ from change and what are some of the key myths on transition you dispel in your book/work?
Linda: In our society changes are used to reach a goal whereas transitions involve re-examining our assumptions. We typically think about transition when we encounter major life events like a marriage or divorce or career change or bereavement. Through my work I’ve learned that these events are nothing more than catalysts that leave us at the doorstep of transition. None of these catalysts require or guarantee a transition. The decision is up to us. Here is a short video on the difference between change and transition. http://womenandtransition.com/ At this website, scroll down the page to the ‘Get Started’ area. One of the video options in that section is entitled, “Change or Transition?”
Vera: Transition is often characterized in the ‘negative experiences’ camp but you assert that it can be optimistic and positive. How so and what are the benefits of being in transition.
Linda: We misunderstand transition as a society. Our misunderstanding can lead to self-doubt and negativity. Unfortunately, these characterizations are everywhere in the public psyche related to transition. My research has taught me that transition is really about shifts in what holds value or meaning to us. Our willingness to explore those shifts allows us to step beyond the negativity and access the enormous gifts that are possible for those who navigate transition. My research participants defined transition’s gifts in terms of peace, joy, optimism and exhilaration.
Vera: What are the signs that one is heading for a cross roads?
Linda: I’ve found the best answer to your question lies in an awareness exercise. For example, if someone was recently terminated from their job, I would ask them to bring their awareness to the question: ‘What else may be going on for them?’ Very often I hear answers to this question that include, “I have not been so happy at this work,” or “I am not sure this was a good choice.” The best indicator that someone is potentially at a cross roads occurs when they are able to bring their awareness to broader issues that are happening in their lives.
Vera: You had a strong track record and quite likely with bigger things ahead of you in your career when you decided to take time off. Why did you take that decision and how did you know that was the right way forward?
Linda: My catalyst occurred while I was on a business trip in London. While it wasn’t a catastrophic event, it involved my young children and their care. That event left me unmoored. I felt as if the ground fell out from underneath me. Even though I was confused by this state, I also felt a strong sense of possibility, that there was something more for me. The combination of the event in London and my feeling of possibility gave me the confidence to begin to explore with an open heart. The journey inspired me to initiate research on transition. I’ve completed two eighteen-month research cycles that have yielded astonishing results. It also opened me up to advocacy, speaking, writing and teaching about transition and its influence on our advancement. It has been a fantastic – and irreplaceable – journey in-spite-of its uncertain start.
Vera: in your framework for transition, how can one make the most from transitioning?
Linda: The framework walks people step-by-step through transitioning. There are 8 steps that help someone envision what is next and validate their ideas so that transition can lead to a realistic practical outcome.
Vera: What surprised you most about your transition?
Linda: Emotions and their role in transition really surprised. I found that emotions can work to distort our point of view of the options we face, particularly when we are in flux. For example, my greatest fear when I started my transition was a fear of isolation. Just prior to my transition I was a c-suite executive in a publicly-traded Fortune 500 company. My days were spent immersed with people and issues – 7×24! It took my transition to help me realize that I was more isolated while serving in that executive capacity than I ever imagined. The isolation of my 7×24 work commitments had built an impenetrable barrier between me and the world, particularly those whom I cared most about. Readers might appreciate this view of the 4 secrets to overcoming unexpected transitions:http://www.nextavenue.org/4-secrets-to-overcoming-unexpected-life-transitions/
Vera: What are some insights you gained on where potential fits in the choices one makes on what is next?
Linda: Potential lies at the core of transition. Transition asks us to bring voice to those things that hold value and meaning to us. It is who we are in our wildest imaginations. The great news about transition is that it lets us imagine those things that engage us and offers us a path to realize those dreams. The practical side is key- there is a step-by-step process that allows us to translate dreams into a practical reality.
Linda is an entrepreneur and managing director of Golden Seeds, LLC, an angel capital network that invests in emerging women-led companies. She served as Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Administration at Iron Mountain, and as CEO/founder of EMaven, Inc., a venture capital-backed technology services company that was acquired by Perot Systems, now Dell Corporation. Linda currently focuses on transitions and their influence on adult advancement. Her work involves advocacy, research and speaking to advance our understanding of and success with transition. Her first book, Women & Transition: Reinventing Work and Life, is a 5-star rated Amazon top seller. Her work has been featured on NPR, Money Magazine, The Boston Business Journal, Next Avenue, The Huffington Post and others. She holds a BA from Simmons College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Eastern MA. Linda can be reached at @Wmn_transition or firstname.lastname@example.org or via https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindarossetti