Achieving successful separation

A child steps up into the school busIn a world filled with change, it is often not the physical changes we find difficult but rather the emotional and psychological impacts of letting go of the way the world used to be.

Kodak didn’t fail because it couldn’t make digital cameras — the company actually invented the digital camera in 1975. Kodak failed because it was emotionally tied to its identity as a chemical photographer and so couldn’t take advantage of its own invention. This left a huge opportunity for others to fill.

The owners of Starbucks saw themselves as local sellers of coffee beans and coffee equipment and so couldn’t buy-in to Howard Shultz’s vision of a global coffee retailer. To make that vision happen, Shultz literally had to buy the company from them.

Successful adaptation, whether personally or in business, requires us to manage our psychological and emotional transitions.

These come in three stages and the first is called Separation.

Separation is about getting closure for a part of our lives that is over. It is about letting go of the way the world used to be. Only then can we turn to embrace the new possibilities.

When did you last experience a major change in your role or identity? Were you able to fully step into your new identity before you finally let go of the old one? Would it have been useful to have known how to do that faster?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By julie corsi via

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