Posts Tagged ‘transitions’

Scared to change? Fear getting you down?

August 30th, 2018

Change and Fear


This week I met with a client to discuss a change in her team- adding an App into the routine. Change can be scary and yet, it is often needed.

When is it a good time to get over the fear of change, and when is it not a good idea?  Continue? Move on?

Let’s deal with fear first:

Fear can be good, as a motivator (ie:  the company will have to cut back if we don’t sell xamount of goods) but it can also stop change.  When fear is a healthy motivation to get things done asap, that’s great.  When fear stops you because you feel it threatens you (eg: “There will be violence”), it’s not good – and maybe not at all true.  You can look back to last week’s blog on assumptions, here:

The point is, what is the fear doing to you?  If it’s holding you back, there is a problem; if it’s spurring you on, then great. Coaches and counselors can help you with your emotions.  But now let’s move on to the choice: to change or not to change.

Here are some suggestions to consider when you continue in the path you are going:

  • Your idea is great, your strategy is practically perfect, if you say so yourself (or you can perfect it), you are doing theright things with the right motives
  • You – and your team – have the right competencies(or are willing to learn them, fast)
  • You are focusing on the most important things, the ONE BIG thing really

(and remember that 80/20 principle, -spend time on the people and activities that “help” the most)

  • You have a decision-making process already in place
  • And – allYour systems (financial, logistical, discipleship, etc) are workable and they allow you to focus on your one BIG thing

A good model for making a change will help

WHEN TO GO and TRY SOMETHING ELSE, either in or outside of the present business/job

  • Change is generally a good thing: it helps you (and the business) to grow and become more creative – people learn new skills and strategies
  • There is opportunity for growth (financial and personal)
  • You can become a disrupter and challenge the status quo
  • You have been misunderstanding the business/personal signs to keep on with the same old (here’s a most awesome TEDtalk on this:
  • Your pros now outweigh(even if they don’t outnumber) your cons to stay the same
  • The environment (culture, technology, economy, customer needs/demands) has changed and you must readjust
  • This one is BIG:

you can’t answer important questions, like, “Why are you doing this?  Why is x, y, or z happening?  How did you/we miss that?”

  • Your short cuts are cutting you and the business short and you are not doing “the job” right anymore
  • You have tried everything you can think of and it’s still not working the way it is now
  • KEY: The only things keeping you from changing or quitting is your prideand yourfear
  • You have continued financial and/or other major lossesand you do not see not much change for the future
  • And finally, your own priorities have changed and you have a different view of your business idea and your work

I hope this helps you with your change decision- to do or not to do.  Next timew, we will look at the change process, itself.

Have a very creative and innovative rest of your week,

Patricia Jehle

Are you just getting back in the saddle again?

August 14th, 2018

Time to get away – and reflect

I have just had a long holiday.  It’s been great, but at least for me, returning to the job can sometimes be difficult. Returning to work can be emotionally and even physically difficult, especially if you have really had a mental break from your every-day schedule, as I have had.  It can feel like you are a deep-sea diver coming to the surface again, facing a foreign world from where you have recently been.  Resurfacing and getting back in the saddle, to mix some metaphors, are tough.

This was the case for me- I was far away, mentally, emotionally and physically from all my work.  Then I came back to a few important deadlines, to a lot of emails, and a messy desk.  I had to resurface fast.  I got back in the saddle and started moving forward.  Here are some things I tried to do to make the re-adjustment smooth; maybe you can do them too!


Toss your ideas to the wind and see what happens!

Start on a Wednesday, or even Thursday- or do a “fun” thing first

Make your first work-week lighter by only working a few days, or perhaps schedule something “fun” first, such as a training day, or a team building day where you have no choice but to ignore your email list. This time I only focused on the deadlines.

Alternatively, check the email list immediately when you return (at home – and be brutalwith your triage, no replies, just deletes – reply in the office).  My entrepreneurial niece triaged 1,300 emails after a three-week vacation ended yesterday.  Hats off to her!

Start slowly, with loweredexpectations

Do not plan a really long first day or two, but slowly set and get into your list of “to-dos”; don’t expect to get finished with your list, but try to focus on one or twokey goals for the first few days.  Remember to reacquaint yourself with the team, the space, and the food, too. Perhaps you have a small souvenir you want to put on your desk to remind you of the great time you have just had. Mine is a ceramic teacup ornament a friend gave me at TeenStreet.

Revisit your vacation memories

Speaking of souvenirs, maybe you want to review your photos, or try and make that green curry you learned to make in Thai cooking class.  As a family, we always bring back food and enjoy them later on.  We make a meal to re-live our holiday experience in our own home and will anchor it in our memories.  Alternatively, listen to the music you listened to while on holiday, as you work, if allowed, or as you cook and clean up and do your holiday laundry.


Explore to a new place.

Have -or make- future plans, have something to look forward to, holiday plans or otherwise

Not only are we attending a couple of fun activities at the end of the month, but we also are planning a fall trip somewhere.  So, although we will be working, we have very positive activities to look forward to.  This helps when work gets tough, which of course happens regularly:  we can look ahead to the next enjoyable activities that break the work stress.  These plans help make the days pass with positive thoughts.

May your holiday resurfacing be successful and the next holidays be planned soon!

Patricia Jehle   

Reinvent yourself for Success!

March 20th, 2018

Re-inventing Yourself – a necessity for many, especially for those over 50, but it’s vital for others, too.


For many people facing job-cuts and company reorganization, reinvention is key for continuing in the work force.  Unemployment is the catalyst for many changes.

It just may not be possible, especially if you are at the top, to  do exactly what you have been doing at same level of seniority (and pay, at least in Switzerland).

You will have to reinvent yourself.  This kind of change is possible, but also can be difficult.

Yes, we ALL can change

Based on research, I believe every person is able to change until their life on this earth ends.  So, my answer would be a qualified yes.  I will tell you a story about myself that illustrates this qualified yes.

An example from my teenage years

When I was about 14 years old I was a typically shy teen: bookish, reserved, pretty good at school and pretty uninterested in (most) sports.  But I wanted to be more “popular”, to “have more fun” the way I saw others enjoying themselves.  So, for a while I observed those who I considered more popular that were having fun, and thought about what they did differently than I.  I came to a simple conclusion:

They put themselves forward and volunteered more, for one thing.  They offered to do things.

So, as of that day of realization I began to volunteer to do things for others, starting with easy things and then gradually getting bolder so that, now at this point some five decades later, I volunteer to do the hard things, like pitching at startup weekends (last weekend).

This change simply began by raising my hand and offering my opinion, my time, my voice, my energy, and my creativity.  It actually began at a youth camp with my offering to organize a skit for everyone to watch and playing the “lead speaking” role in it.  Each little success led to another trial of something a little bit harder.

But not every attempt was successful.  Some of them were, of course, failures. Yet, when I tell most people who know me socially that I am an introvert, they are surprised because I have learned to act extroverted, I have learned to put myself forward and the risk involved has become less difficult for me.

I really do enjoy parties and being with people nowadays, but I still love time alone and books more. It took time to learn how to deal with the energy output, to coach myself on how to “do” these kinds of relatively unnatural activities.

The qualification to the “yes, you can”

You can re-invent yourself with a qualified yes.  We all have our general personality traits and we work from a starting point of where we are at.  Yet, we need to challenge ourselves and not use the excuse, “I am introverted and can’t do parties or “I am extroverted and can’t work/be alone.”

We are all able to do a lot of activities we don’t think we can, if we try and learn and try again, and keep trying until we make it.  But those activities may very well be out of our “normal arena of comfort”.  These new activities may drain us more than other more typical to our personality activities do.

Change is hard.  Change will not be easy for you, that is true, but if you want to keep working after being made redundant (especially after he age of 50 in Switzerland), change will be necessary for your success.

Re-inventing your career

When dealing with joblessness over 50, it is vital to re-invent your career, instead of working only within ones’ experience, training and/or personality borders, you will need a “Career Swing” of some sort.  Lately this topic has become more important for my friends and colleagues as the business and the economic reality of Switzerland’s landscape has been changing.

Essentially what the issue is, is that you need a good change process plan, based on the environment, your (realistic) expectations, and your abilities and boundaries.

You may change your type of work, the way you work (perhaps as a consultant), or maybe you will start your own business.  This will, then start even more change processes.  Of course, you may have to learn new things such as more about networking and using social media, too.

And what about your business, if you have one?

Finally, sometimes you need to re-invent or re-vamp your business or business strategies.  This kind of inventory taking for business should be done quarterly or twice a year at the least —depending on the business results from the last quarter and/or semester.

I would love to have an email (or otherwise, perhaps a Skype or coffee) dialog about this kind of re-invention.  Maybe you are anticipating a big change, or are in the middle of it.  No matter what, though, when dealing with this difficult change process, remember to start by asking yourself what works for others, what has worked for you in the past, and what might work in the future, based on the present situation.

You will then be on your way to a different future, and maybe even in a different place!

Have a great rest of the week!

Patricia Jehle           and 

Also, should you be interested in joining my LinkedIn Group, SMEs Grow Together, go here:  or like my Facebook page:

December Job Search

December 7th, 2017

Job Search in December? Don’t give up! Keep on going!

Keep up the job search

Finding a new job at the end of the year can be daunting, but it can be done.

Keep Looking!

Just because some companies slow down at this time of year, don’t give up your search. Keep on, and you might even get an interview in the next two weeks before the holidays. In Switzerland I have seen a number of new postings recently, so be on the alert, as the first ones who apply often receive more attention than those in the “middle flood”.

When you do get that interview, what can you do to stand out in a positive way?

  • Do your research, about the company of course, but if you know who will be interviewing you, also research that person, or those people. Read and refer to their blog, if they have one.
  • Be concrete in your examples, either in the past (stories are really good when you can link previous success to the company’s future success if they hire you) – but also for the future. Imagine how you can help with the company’s strategy (it should be in their annual report), for example. Find a problem you imagine the business faces and solve it (with your help, of course).
  • Be prepared for the long process of interviewing, These days, it could take a while, unless you are an insider. Show your confidence and warm personality, your manners, humbleness and EQ. Make sure you are talking in what I call verbal paragraphing. Chunk your sentences together and make yourself sound eloquent.
  • Posture is key: smile, shoulders back, well-groomed people get the job. Period.

keep looking for an opportunity

Of course there are books that have been written about all the steps in the job search from CVs to follow-up emails, so I don’t have to say more at the moment. Mostly, remember to do your best and do not give up. Keep going until the 22nd of December and start again on the 8th of January at the very latest (and that’s for Switzerland, the break is much shorter in the US and other places).

I wish you all the best for this month, and for the holidays.

Patricia Jehle

Change is good and change is hard

August 28th, 2017

CHANGE! Where are we and where do we want to go?

I am thinking about change this week, and working on a podcast to help some people implement change in their organization, so I will let my readers see a little into my ideas and thoughts.

Which changes and how?

  • change is good
  • change is hard
  • change is natural and normal, we all change; life is about change
  • change goes against the status quo and takes a lot of energy to bring about
  • change brings innovation and new energy
  • change gets stuck somewhere, usually


I believe all these and many more statements to be true about change. Change in an organization can be hard but it is necessary for continued innovation and sustained growth and life. Thus I have written up some steps and ideas to help bring about change within an organization, based on Dr. John Kotter’s seven steps.

Here are some steps to change with a few questions


  • See need and increase urgency
  • Choose your change team and find your first movers/influencers (from a large group of people across the organization at all levels)

Some Questions:

  • Do you see a Big Opportunity that could ignite the hearts and minds of your people?
  • Do you know how to identify, articulate and communicate it?
  • Are you able to connect an external change factor with a special capability of your organization?
  • What are the stakes if you succeed? Consequences if you fail?
  • Can you get at least 50% of your organization to buy in to the change?
  • How will you find a way to engage a formalized network to take on the change initiative?
  • How can this new change be seen as a “want to” and not a “have to”?


  • How might current hierarchical and silo-based structures stop communication and engagement (especially regarding change)?
  • Where in your organization are people aligned around a single idea that inspires them to do things that move ideas forward?
  • Do people within the organization speak about the goals in the same way with the same priority? If not, how can these be aligned?
  • If you asked people around the organization about the Change Vision, how many different answers would you get?


  • Focus- define your vision foundation and values and choose your outcomes
  • Assess- conduct a change readiness assessment and assess where you are at the moment in terms of the chosen outcomes
  • Plan- (get and involve a coach specializing in change management)establish a change leadership team
  • What needs to be in your strategy?
  1. A vision with measurable objectives that are simple to communicate
  2. Think S.M.A.R.T. (look this up if you don’t know about it)
  3. Make a step-by step plan
  4. Involve your first movers/leaders in this planning stage so they are on the same page with you—you will need people from different areas/departments so the seeds can be sown throughout the organization
  • Spread the message- inform your first movers, make concrete change management plans, build organizational support through communication of need and plan
  1. Within and without the organization, but first within!
  2. Remove any expected barriers or resistant systems before making the change
  3. Make sure anything undermining the vision is gotten rid of


  • Enable and empower action- make sure the ones who bring change (leaders, first movers) have the power to implement the change
  • Train- initiate training and coaching of the change agents
  • Communicate- clearly communicate expectations for all involved across the whole organization, including addressing anticipated resistance
  • Implement- mobilize the (change) teams and execute the plans


  • Celebrate- celebrate all, even small, successes
  • Sustain- remember to add energy after the honeymoon stage where change often gets bogged down, don’t stop until it is finished and totally refined
  • Refine – assess progress and see where to change the process and plans
  • Adapt- identify improvement areas via continued checks and feedback
  • Continue to communicate-
  1. Go public with your change(s)- share with all donors and other key stakeholders outside of your organization
  2. Show the public where you are and where you want to go and the way you plan to get there: articulate a clear vision for everyone
  3. Repeat your vision until it becomes know, up to 12 months

Change is hard

Adapted from:


Thinking of My Heroes

January 20th, 2017

How are you doing today?

This morning I woke up early and angry, both of those things are not very common for me, so I pondered and asked myself why I was feeling this way and realized it is because today is January 20, 2017.

Then I gathered my will and wits and thought about positive people that I look up to, past and present and I was encouraged. My heroes.

Be encouraged today by your heroes.

Here are three of mine: my mother (surprise!), my father-in-law, and my friend, B. Although I have many more and could write a book about my unsung heroes, I will write a blog about these three.


My mother, Marge Christensen, became a widow when I was four and she was just over 40 years old. Having lived all her life with first her biological family and then with my dad and siblings, being single was a strange experience, and being a single mom in the 60s, put her in a place of discrimination and where we lived, not very high “on the totem pole”. Mom worked in a factory and had married before finishing high school, which in her time was quite the norm. Mom, a product of circumstances and her time, became a strong feminist and a very healthy positive independent woman and much of this transformation happened before my very eyes. She worked long hard hours, saved, was independent in so many ways- bought her own car, home and furniture, planned her – our – future (all for the first, and then many times) and lived a good life. Mom had a long, happy retirement and lived to be 92. She was healthy until just before she died in 2015. At the funeral my sibs made me say something and I think I said a version of this: my mother was a smart, strong and very sexy woman who was positive about life. Today I remember that positivity.


My father-in-law, Werner Jehle, was a highly trained watchmaker, the old fashioned kind who could actually make and fix really expensive hig-quality watches. He and his wife grew up in Germany near the Swiss border and one of their dreams, besides going to Canada, was moving to Switzerland, the land of watches. So they did move to Switzerland, first to Baden and then to Bern where my husband was born. But circumstances change and for Werner the issue was that digital watches had become the craze and he saw little future as a watchmaker, anymore. So Werner took an opportunity given him by the government and trained as an elementary school teacher. He was not so young anymore, but he saw an opportunity and took it. He and wife Elisabeth moved to the countryside with their family and Werner became the village teacher, which is also not an easy life for him as you are seen as a public figure of sorts; and Werner was a rather shy man. But he made the best of the situation, eventually moving back to Baden and then retiring there. He saw an opportunity and made the best of his situation. He took positive steps and benefitted from his good choices.


My friend, B, came to Switzerland with his wife and son as a political refugee. Because he is still a political refugee and because his homeland is still in a dangerous state, his name will remain a secret. B was a successful engineer at home and he and his family had had a middle class lifestyle in a place where there was a very small middle class. Then he moved here to Switzerland where he didn’t know the language and his work training and experience “didn’t count”. So, B learned German and got trained as a tradesman. B chose to continue forward and to think positively, even in a terrible situation. He and his wife and son have settled well here and Switzerland has become their new home, even though they still miss their first home. As someone who has moved to Switzerland under “easy” circumstances, I know transitions can be hard, and B was able to make that transition, and yet another hard transition: learning a new profession and then working in a foreign language. What a hero for me! He was positive even when his circumstances were bleak. B was strong, made hard changes and moved onwards and upwards.


I have other, more famous heroes. You probably do, too. This week I say goodbye to one hero who was my president, and I took a day to remember another: Martin Luther King Jr. Neither of those men had easy lives and yet they were positive and grace-full to the end. My hat goes off to both of them, too.

So, what can I do today? Remember my heroes and think positively and move forward, making good choices. One day, one step at a time. I suggest you do the same. Who are your heroes? Why?


Patricia Jehle

Change and you

August 5th, 2016

Change Happens


Change, like another entity that goes with the word “happen”, happens. We as human beings are affected by change on a daily basis. As someone who has been working for nearly three decades, I have seen a lot of change, both in my chosen industry and in the world itself, especially the technical world.


As a personal example regarding technical changes, here are some examples: I wrote my bachelor’s honors thesis on the college’s mainframe word processing system, which took learning a whole new computer language just for that one paper. My master’s thesis was written on my old manual typewriter that skipped spaces if you backspaced to correct mistakes. Then I had a commodore computer in the 90s and after that one of those funky green iMacs a few years later, now I have a MacbookPro, after two other Macbooks… As a teacher I began making copies with a mimeograph (google this, if you want) for several years and then I eventually moved to photocopying some time around the year 2000. At the present moment when I lecture at the university I have a desk that has a camera on it –and there is no overhead projector to be found at the university where I teach. The students download the appropriate papers to their computers and other devices for study. We are become much more paperless these days.


Each technical change I have experienced over the years has not been easy for me, but to remain part of the mainstream of my profession I have needed to move on, I have needed to embrace the new ideas and then learn how to use those new ideas to develop the skills required to carry out and make the changes and then finally I have then had to make plans for further positive change. Change is on-going. It is fluid. It happens, with, or without, my approval.


Nobody likes to change


The reason I am thinking about change today is because as a coach, I have been working with CEOs and owners a lot and change is one of THE topics for them.


My friend said one weekend, “nobody wants to change”. He is pretty much right, but does that mean we, as business leaders, don’t talk about change, or do we find a way to engage in thinking positively about change? According to Kotter’s 8-step model of change (see the photo with the books), one of the first things that needs to be done is to establish some sort of sense of urgency, a need for the change. Let’s put this thought for the moment aside and consider when to change.


When is the best time to effect change? Now, and always!


Much energy is expended in order to bring about change. In fact, the energy expended for any change can be seen as a bell curve, but the problem lies in the fact that if you want to bring about a change without expending a whole lot of energy, you need to change while you are still expending energy from the last change. Thus, it is best to start the change-ball in motion and just keep it going rather than starting and stopping all the time. Now, that’s a challenging idea!


Create Urgency: Get them on board


The other issue is on-boarding the team(s). How do you get the people who will be effecting the change behind the idea? That is where your personal leadership style comes into play. I have seen change processes that were well explained with logical reasoning, starting with the urgent need. Those changes went well, considering everything. But I have seen others that were not “sold” as urgent to the employees, and the change management was not well carried-out.


A well thought out reasoning for the change that is clearly communicated to the stakeholders brings the majority of the team on board so that the change can be well executed. But part of it is magic. The magic happens outside our comfort zones. We ourselves want to learn and become better, but to do that we have to start (and keep) moving – out of our personal and professional comfort zones.


This particular blog is re-worked from May, 2015. I thought it needed re-doing, and especially repeating.

Have a great weekend!

Patricia Jehle

Waiting can be good for us…

June 21st, 2016



I am waiting. Waiting for summer to really arrive, in more ways than one. Waiting for (hopefully good) news on many fronts, including Brexit, too.


Having lived about half my life in a country where Memorial Day, is the “beginning of summer”. I have always felt that mid-July is way too late for summer vacation, for my, my husband’s and the kids’ holidays, to begin. Here in Switzerland, June is a school month.


After all, one should be able to experience the solstice today and not worry about school. But no, there are tests to take (and/or correct) and meetings to attend well past that wonderfully wistful date of the midnight sun. Here it’s around 10pm or so when the sun sets and we have these great new Adirondack chairs to sit in and watch it.


So I am waiting for summer holidays to begin, but it looks like a long four weeks for us Jehles.


Except for my middle child, who has finished taking his high school (gymnasium) final exams – a process of something like a month. Now he has two weeks to go as he is waiting for a different kind of beginning: The Swiss Military Recruit Training School. He is looking forward to about five months of no studying but instead learning all sorts of new skills that have little to do with academia.


I am also waiting for the rain to stop. Perhaps you know of the flooding going on in greater Europe. Well, it’s raining here, too.


But I guess what I am really waiting for is for life to calm down and the summer heat to overwhelm us all so we become incredibly lazy, drink iced tea and eat ice cream, but maybe not in that order.


We have our new Adirondack chairs — and my husband is expecting for us to spend evenings in them, drinking cool drinks and listening to the crickets. I love crickets, and there’s one nearby. I hear it when I walk the dog, who also seems to be waiting for summer to arrive.


As a child growing up in the US, I remember endless days of iced tea, books and sitting in the shade. Of fishing and swimming lessons, and then going swimming again in the afternoon, even if we’d had lessons. I am waiting once again for that kind of day where the to-do list is non-existent and all I need to do is remember to eat. And get dressed: A real vacation.


But now I wait, at least another four weeks and then we will see what (the rest of the) summer brings.


I think I heard this somewhere and I believe it: Waiting is actually good for us humans; it gives us something to hope for, to look forward to. A famous man wrote that hope does not disappoint us. I think he was right. Hope and planning causes us almost as much joy as the actual activity, anyway. Hmmm. So waiting can be very positive.


What are you waiting for? What are you hoping for? How are you waiting, perhaps proactively?


Patricia Jehle

Regional Director at the Alpha Group, Switzerland and Coach



We are learning beings

November 19th, 2015

What I have learned in the past two weeks:

I have been home to say the final goodbye to my mom this past week. It has been hard and good at the same time, as often these kinds of turning points in life are. We need to take them as they come, walk through them and learn from them. I have learned a lot from this past month or so. Here are some of the things I have learned:

Being there is more important than getting it done

I didn’t do much while I was home. I am a list person, a doing person, and the list was rather small for the weekend of my mom’s funeral: get photographs copied, let my nieces put them up on poster-board, and shop for cookies and flowers with the family. But the fact that I was there and a part of the conversation, of the process was really important- for my siblings, for my nieces and nephews, and especially for me. I was just there, being me. And it was really important.

Often we are more interested in what we can contribute to an activity or event, but we don’t realize that our presence is present enough. For relationships, that is usually what is needed. Our authentic presence is key.


Express your appreciation as often as possible

I can never say thank you enough. Saying thank you shows your genuine acknowledgement of a person’s kind actions, sentiments and words. That is exactly what I experienced this past week: so many emails, cards, hugs, kind words, gifts of work, gifts of time… the list could go on and on.

My husband and I teach; he in a gymnasium (read Preparatory High School in American English) and I at a Business College in a University. Both of us received condolences, not only from colleagues and the administration, but also from our classes. That was very unexpected and heartwarming. It means a lot to hear this, and to hear concern (and appreciation) in these messages. I will thank them as soon as I see them, even though I thanked them by email, as I was getting ready to leave. I have thanked so many people for their kind words and deeds in the past month, and I mean every sentiment.

A smile and hug are often the best present

Having said that, the most simple of actions can mean a whole lot. A hug. Research shows that a human being needs five hugs a day to survive and even more to thrive. So I must have really thrived over the past to weeks- especially since going back for my mom’s goodbye service. Remember as the holiday season comes upon us to give – and receive hugs. The minimum is five a day. And you will be gifting people with the gift of a warm human touch.

Poignant words at the appropriate time can have lasting impact

I have a good friend who has remained relatively close since college days. She is very good with words, and is very wise for our age. She reminded me over hot apple cider that I am also an orphan now, as she (and my husband) is. My coaching instructor reminded me that my roots have been affected, as is always the case when a parent dies. My words also affect people, and I should use them wisely, too.

Laughter is really a great medicine

In the remembering sessions our family had before, during and after the memorial service, laughter was a key ingredient of the process. We all have funny stories about my mom, sometimes my mom was a privy to them, sometimes just a part, and sometimes the instigator. It was a very healing experience to sit and remember and laugh about so many good times together. I think mom would have been pleased to be remembered in this way and to see her family not only mourning, but laughing together.

This is what I have been learning. We all learn. So, what have you been learning lately?DSCN8921

I would welcome comments or questions at and you can find out more about me and my business at


Transitions got you down?

August 25th, 2015

“Transitions are almost always signs of growth, but they can bring feelings of loss. To get somewhere new, we may have to leave somewhere else behind.” – Fred Rogers


Transitions=Grief Process

This week and month are ones of transition for me. How about you? Transition is always, as Fred Roger said, a kind of loss. We had guests, for example, and now they are gone. I was quite sad when they left because they are wonderful people and we had great fun together.


Expats experience loss through transition quite often. The most simple kind is the above example: guests, family and friends, come and then go. But there are more: job transitions, moving, saying goodbye to old – or newly made – friends. Lots of times expat friends must suddenly move away. Sometimes we do not realize the goodbye has happened until after people are gone and we have to work backwards through the mourning process.


A matter of life, and death

Unfortunately, life happens to all of us, and that means death, as well. For me, I have been faced with death all summer. A friend suddenly lost his father this summer. My daughter’s colleague lost his mother in an accident last week. A dear friend lost her newborn daughter after less than 48 hours together last week. My dear neighbor is suffering from terminal cancer and we do not expect him to life till next year. and there are more situations I won’t recount here. These situations are heavy transitions; the mourning is much deeper, much longer.


We must work through the stages of grief as shown above in the infographic, based on the Kubler-Ross Model, so that we can really function well in life. This means actually facing the situation, the feelings of anger, disbelief, the deep sadness we might feel, so that we can begin to try and live again. My friends and neighbors have a tough road ahead of them, but I in my own way am also mourning with them. I feel anger at the injustice of a baby dying; I feel sadness for my daughter’s friend at the loss of his mother so early in life. Emotions are good; they are what make us human. We shouldn’t be afraid to cry with our friends who are mourning. In fact it may encourage them, help them feel that we are a “small part” of their grief process. Take your time and feel your feelings when you grieve a loss.


Lessons learned

The lesson for us as expats is that we, too, have to work through our grief. A lot of our anger that we experience may not really about the immediate situation, but might be about the grief of change: moving away from home, losing identity (especially for trailing spouses), having to say goodbye to yet another friend. These are a few good examples of reasons to stop and grieve. Then, of course, there is general transition that everyone experiences from time to time. Even those need to be worked through: change from school to work, or even a job promotion, or a change of work space.


Therefore, when you are surprised by your anger or sadness, stop and reflect. Work through the emotion and discover the reason, so that you might be a more effective, not a reactive, person. But remember that the transitions, as Mr. Rogers said, are also signs of growth, so be reassured.