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The Way Of Transition: Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments Paperback – 4 Dec 2001
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The author of the best-selling Transitions turns inward, revealing how personal tragedy can yield growth and rejuvenation. William Bridges' lifelong work has been devoted to a deep understanding of transitions and to helping others through them. When his own wife of thirty-five years died of cancer, however, he was thrown head-first into the kind of painful and confusing abyss he had known before only in theory. An honest account of being in transition, this uncommonly wise and moving book is a richly textured map of the personal, professional, and emotional transformations that grow out of tragedy and crisis. Demonstrating how disillusionment, sorrow, or confusion can blossom into a time of incredible creativity and contentment, Bridges highlights the profound significance and value of endings in our lives.
About the Author
Formerly a professor of English, William Bridges made a shift to the field of transitional management in the mid-1970s out of his workshops has grown a long career of consulting, lecturing, and helping others through transitions. He lives with his wife in Mill Valley, California.
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The author has managed to depict brilliantly the complex and sequential transformations we go through when we are in a "changing" mode (e.g. like the stage when we are unable to "define", to others and to ourselves, who we are and what we are doing).
Thanks to this book, understanding how transitions unfold, and what's behind the turmoils that might appear is made easier.
Bridges talks clearly about a topic (change) -and its circumstances- that is normally very difficult to pin down.
He doesn't guide you into how to change your life; he simply walks with you through such difficult times, offering words of solace and wisdom. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I'm a Bridges fan. "Transitions" has helped me through some trying times. Bridges definitely has a spiritual approach in "The Way of Transition." His academic background also shows. His exercises usually involve educational situations: imagining you're in a class or writing chapters in a book. This may not appeal to those who didn't like school. It so happens that I have a distinctly spiritual outlook and that I loved school, so these weren't issues for me. For me they were strengths.
I greatly appreciate the distinctions he makes--between change and transition (others have noted this) and between decisions and choices, among others that are very valuable. I love his re-telling of "The Wizard of Oz" as the archetypal life "journey." I find his wit refreshing. I find his raw honesty compelling.
I would recommend this book, and I already have. I will read it more than once in my lifetime.
My caveat involves an omission, not a commission. In his chapter, "Finding Myself in the Neutral Zone" he describes (SPOILER ALERT) his emergence from that zone by finding a new love, his current wife. Don't get me wrong--I think that Bridges deserves every happiness! I understand that what I find missing may simply not be his book. No one can be everything to everyone. I confess, though, that when he describes discovering a new love in a woman 18 years his junior and that he's surprised, I think something like, "Well, perhaps Bridges finds this experience unpredictable; to me it seems nearly inevitable." That men in their 60s finding women in the 40s to be attractive companions is a documented cultural reality. It's not anywhere near unusual. And, again, don't get me wrong--these people deserve every happiness and it's lovely that they found one another whatever their ages! Whether or not their union is a common cultural reality doesn't cancel out their individual transitions and their happy ending.
My issue comes with the fact that Bridges no where (unless I missed it!) addresses that such a new beginning would be unlikely, to say the least, for a woman of 63. His second wife originally approached him. How many 45-year-old men would approach a 63-year-woman?
I know from reading the other reviews that a number of widows have found his book very supportive, and I'm not surprised. And the current U.S. political situation in which it's so evident that the female experience has been consistently ignored or dismissed (by both men and some women) may have made me more sensitive than I otherwise would have been. Many of my widowed or divorced friends in their 50s through 80s have told me that they've given up on having love in their lives. The qualifying men are looking for women 20 years (or more) their junior, or for "nurses." Furthermore, married women of their acquaintance find them threatening and frequently make sure not to include them socially.
Ironically, if Bridges weren't so perceptive a witness of his own and others' processes, I wouldn't expect him to comment on this reality. So, as I said, it's an omission, but perhaps not his to remedy.
I'm grateful that Bridges decided to share his journey, including the setbacks, the emotional pain, and the misguided thinking. He's a courageous man.
(p.s. I never catch all the typos.)
He uses his wife's passing and the insights gleaned in the process to discover new insights into the transition process in everyday living. He suggests that the reader engage in three processes that will help them see more clearly into their life's journey and the significant transitions that were experienced. I've completed the initial "chapter" experience that currently resembles a table of contents.
I like his perspective that transitional journeys are a bit messy, that one can not "plan your work and work your plan" and expect to arrive at the target or goal that we sought at the outset. Bridges uses his own vocational life and choices to elucidate this point. His writing on this topic helped me see that my childhood heroes of Robin Hood, Zorro, etc. were directly linked to my own purpose in life and the focus of my career-- helping others realize their high-performing potentials.
I was saddened at the outset of his book because Bridges was doubting himself and his knowledge of the transitions process. He had always applied it to organizations and was wondering if he really "knew his stuff" in terms of helping others through transitions. I wanted to reach out to him and let the master- physician -of- transitions know had most definitely helped countless organizations, teams, and individuals during times of significant organizational change. In 1993, I was employed at Virginia Power in Richmond, VA. This 10,000-employee-organization began a re-structuring process that was to improve its processes, eliminate unnecessary ones and the people who were involved in them. My role in our Management and Professional Development section of HR was to help individuals and teams proactively deal with the personal impact that these changes might have on them. Fellow training specialists had used the Bridges Transitions Model previously to help teams adjust to changes like getting a new boss or having teams merge into one unit. Looking back on this four-year process, I can say that the cognitive understanding of the Bridges Transitions model, helped people cope with their daily work (and worry) and the changes facing them much more effectively. It may have even prevented suicides.
So, Mr. Bridges, please know that your self-doubts were simply a part of the process, in which you found yourself at the time.
The Way of Transition would be particularly relevant for individuals who have experienced life-altering events, such as the loss of a family member, good friend, etc. It would even be helpful for senior high school guidance counselors who must interact with students and their parents about vocational choice. It should be listed as "required reading" for senior citizens who face new challenges as they move into their later years. The book can provide them with new insights and wisdom that they will be able to share with their own children, friends, etc.
I am confident that this text is preparing me to be able to accept more graciously the change events coming my way. My batts have definitely been re-charged by reading this book! The book is simply, among other things, inspiring.
Oh, one negative: I bought three of the books and the type was a bit small for these senior eyes, maybe 9- point. I also ordered it on Kindle, so I had no such problem enjoying it there.
Little River, SC
One of my favorite quotes from Bridges book (page 42) is, "Every beginning is a consequence -- every beginning ends something." (Paul Valéry). As someone who is NOT at the beginning of their life, having just finished grad school, moved to a new city, new church, new job, etc., this book has been a great source of comfort and has provided lots of practical insight as I make my way through my new reality.