Transformation isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. The butterfly is used as a pretty common analogy for transformation. The caterpillar building the chrysalis and emerging is the common use.
But did you know that the transformation of the caterpillar begins much sooner? Monarch Butterfly caterpillars’ lives are divided into 5 instars – this is the time it takes to outgrow one skin and burst into a new one.
This is where choice comes in – do you simply shed a skin, and move seamlessly into your new stage of growth, or do you fight the moment of growth. Do you try to stay in your comfort zone so long that you burst through your current comfort zone? Bursting sounds a little messy and very painful.
One way or the other you will change.
For example, you may have outgrown your current position at work. Or you may hate your job, but you have those golden handcuffs on, in that you make too much money to leave. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate your job, the time has come to move on and expand to your full potential.
Shedding your skin means that you are proactive and look for the next position, either within your current company or outside of it. Bursting your skin means that you leave in the worst possible way, either getting fired or quitting in a temper.
When you shed your skin by bursting it, it leaves you to clean up a mess. I had one job in which it took weeks before I had worked through the bad emotions and was capable of updating my resume and getting into looking for a job. It took much longer to work through the lessons learned from bursting my skin.
Each time you expand your comfort zone you develop new skills and grow your own internal gifts. I took a job once that I thought was going to finally help me break through being a senior loan processor and become an underwriter. That was how the job was sold to me.
I started work and in addition to processing loans they had me review, edit and complete a manual that they used for mortgage brokers that sent their loans to this company to be sold to them.
I worked hard on the manual and upon completion the company that I worked for decided they needed to downsize and laid me off. I was devasted and angry that I had worked so hard on that manual. I felt like I have been used up and thrown away.
I wasn’t able to find another position in the San Diego area because interest rates had increased, and everyone was laying off people. I ended up having to relocate to find work.
What I realize when I looked back at this time is that I was being pushed into a new comfort zone. When I relocated, I was hired as an underwriter.
The savings and loan I worked for needed a servicing manual, so I wrote one for them. They needed training done for their loan officers in their many branches, so I wrote out a program of training and trained them. I ended up teaching classes at South Seattle Community College for the bank for loan processors and loan officers.
All of these skills I had acquired at that job in San Diego. Without that job, I wouldn’t have had the skills or the confidence to step up to those opportunities. When you shed skin or burst a skin you have the opportunity to grow or stagnate. To take on a new color, or stripe, or to shrivel up and remain where you are.
When you shed skin or burst one, it can take time to grow into who you are becoming at this stage. You may need recovery time. It could be that where you are living now is not where the next opportunity is for you to grow into who you are becoming. You need to allow the space and time for things to unfold.
When the butterfly, at last, crawls out of the chrysalis it needs to take the time to pump its wet crumpled wings. It can take up to 12 hours or more before it is ready to take its first flight.
When you consider that the adult butterfly’s life is between 15-50 days, that 12 hours takes on a whole new meaning. It is not a short period of time for the butterfly. It is like months of time.
Learning and adaptation are how you embrace and absorb new skills. And as you learn and adapt you need to let go of the old way of doing things.
A baby first learns to roll over. Then to crawl. Then to stand up. And at last, to take that first step.
Trial and error are involved. Failure is a given. But with hard work, resilience, and determination progress is made to go from that initial learning to roll over to running.
- Sometimes, that time and space you need to allow yourself means that you are required to take on new knowledge, such as going back to school.
- Sometimes, it means that you are taking a lateral job move instead of an upward job move.
- Sometimes, it means that you are taking a position that is lower than what you previously had.
To shed a skin requires a mind shift and an identity shift.
We all have the habit of identifying ourselves with our job, and our position. We give ourselves a label that describes who we are.
This means that in each of these periods of growth, you are required to let go of “who you think you are” and reinvent yourself. You need a new label.
What happens is that as you try to stretch and challenge yourself, you’ll have a really hard time finding anyone to talk to about it. Someone who can understand your new level. Every time you get into a creative space, something transformative will happen. As Alice said, “I knew who I was this morning, but I have changed a few times since then”.
“Explore the things that shake you up as well as the things that bring you joy,” says writer Alexandra Elle, the author of the guided journal In Courage. “When you stay curious, you can become your own greatest teacher.”
Richard Powers shared that at its root the word “bewilderment” actually means “to head out into the wild”.
- It’s time for you to shake up your understanding of that word and to head out into the wild yourself.
- To shift your perspective of the world around you.
- To feel a little unmoored, so that you look at things in a new way.
- To lose your certainty and remove your head from the sand.
So, this week I’m inviting you to be bewildered. To let go of your certainty and your self-protectiveness and to come alive to the world’s magic. I wish you grace. I wish you peace, and a great week everybody—bewildered.