The importance of achieving successful separation

In 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.

These come in three stages and the first is Separation.

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

The original owners of Starbucks built a business that sold coffee beans and equipment to the local market. They just couldn’t buy-in emotionally to Howard Shultz’s vision of Starbucks as a global coffee retailer. To make that vision happen, Shultz literally had to buy the company from them. And once the people controlling the company had separated from their old identity, then the task of building a successful new identity could truly begin.

The same applies to all of us.

In a time of change, it is only after we have let go of the way the world used to be that we can truly turn to embrace the new possibilities.

When did you last experience a major change in your role or identity? Did you have to let go of your old identity before you could step fully into the new 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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