This time of year, many young people graduate, saying goodbye to the familiar to start a new and uncertain chapter. Graduation offers us a unique opportunity to reflect on what we have learned about ourselves. As the school year ends, I want to share a piece of what I wrote to my son as he recently finished his freshman year of high school:
We don’t send you to school to get smarter. You are already smart.
We send you to further learn to be you, not them. To be you, while learning to be compassionate and respectful, even though it might not always be “cool.” To keep in mind that everyone is facing some kind of uphill battle, including you. To remember the kinder you are to others, the kinder you are to yourself. And to establish boundaries for yourself so you walk away from people and situations that do not lift you up and serve your goals.
To be courageous in the face of unending beginnings and constant impermanence …
I recently said something similar to an executive team undergoing change during a global reorganization. I suggested this is the perfect time to dig deeper and discover more about themselves. Are they irritable and impatient in the face of change? Do they lift others up or dash their optimism? Does change trigger fears of scarcity or thoughts of abundance? How can times of change be used to strengthen their leadership and emotional muscles?
A leader’s ability to navigate change is linked to their willingness to create change within themselves. This is my hope: that we grow in connection to ourselves so we inspire those around us by accepting all emotions associated with change and navigate impermanence with grace.
As it goes, there is a lot of change swirling around me at the moment. Selling the house we have lived in for 10 years. Moving into a new home. Enjoying the company of my son, who just returned home from his freshman year at boarding school. Grandsons and a nephew graduating. My niece getting married. My husband semi-retiring. Finishing the book I am writing.
This is a time of self-reflection for me: how can I show up for myself and others during all of these changes so that I can be my best? How do I continue to live from a place of abundance?
Focusing on the work I love helps. Seeing my highest hopes manifest helps. Expecting miracles helps. Being with people who do the inner-work on themselves and remain calm, kind, and helpful in the face of challenges makes a big difference.
Change brings up a lot! For those of us who focus on the stress of change with an honest grace and a helpful hand, we are like the Aspen tree, benefitting from the shared strength of deep-rooted connection.