By Jamuna Rangachari April 2006Turning points are nature's way of giving us an opportunity to grow and enhance our potential. Some encounter them in adversity, some through a teacher, a book, a thought, or the inspiring lives of others.Managing Turning PointsTurning points require an 'inner transition'- a psychological transformation of the inner self to deal with the changes in the outer world.'Transition is the state that change puts people into. The change is external (a different job, a new way of doing things, or change in relationship), while transition is internal (a psychological reorientation that people have to go through before the change can work),' writes William Bridges in his book, Managing Transitions.The trouble is, most people imagine that transition is automatic - that it occurs simply because the change is happening. But it doesn't. Even when a change is showing signs that it may work, there is the issue of timing, for transition happens much more slowly than change.Transition takes longer because it requires that people undergo threeseparate processes, and all of them are upsetting.Letting go of the Past: The first requirement is that we have to let go of the way we were. You have to leave where you are, and many people have spent their whole lives standing on where they are. You have to let go of the whole world of experience, the sense of identity, even 'reality' itself.Staying in the Present: Even after we have let go of our old ways, we find ourselves unable to start anew. We are entering the second difficult phase of transition. This is the present zone, and that in-between state is so full of uncertainty and confusion, that simply coping with it takes most of people's energy. This zone is uncomfortable, so people are driven to get out of it. Some people try to rush ahead into some (often any) new situation, while others try to back-pedal and retreat into the past. Successful transition, however, requires that people spend some time in the neutral zone. This time in the neutral zone is not wasted, for that is where the creativity and energy of transition are found and the real transformation takes place. It's like the 14 years of wilderness that Buddha spent before he achieved 'enlightenment'.Letting the future emerge: Some people fail to get through transition because they do not let go of the old ways and make an ending; others fail because they become frightened and confused by the neutral zone and don't stay in it long enough for it to do its work on them. Some, however, do get through these first two phases of transition, but then freeze when they face the third phase, the new beginning. This phase can be disconcerting - it puts one's sense of competence and value at risk.When we are in the process of change, especially change that is forced on us due to circumstances, transitions can be very painful. But when we answer a call and start following the path that life leads us to, the transitions can be exhilarating and energising.We have a choice - do we want to follow our calling and choose the path with a heart or force ourselves to change and choose any path to meet the emergent world?- R SankarasubramanyanNegotiating Turning Pointso Be open to changeo Listen to your inner voiceo View change as an opportunity for growtho repare yourself for 'grace'o Turning points tend to trigger many more turning points in oneself and otherso Every little task, event and relationship is a potential turning pointTurning Points Triggerso Adversityo Inspiring peopleo Words of wisdomo Sudden manifestation of a new perspectiveWhen Emperor Asoka looked at the damages wrought by the Kalinga war, he was shaken to the very roots of his being. This led to one of the most famous turning points in history, and the Kalinga effect is still a metaphor for the emotional pain that war can impose, even on a victor. The path he turned to had evolved from another great turning point: Prince Siddhartha's dejection on seeing a corpse and an old, diseased man, led to his quest for the truth and ultimately, his enlightenment as the Buddha.Both the events that triggered these turning points are not unique. Many wars have been fought before and after Kalinga and all of us have seen diseased people and corpses. How is it that in some, events such as these lead to a totally different direction or a 'turning point' while in most, it is just a temporary feeling of discomfort that is soon overcome or suppressed?As in all spiritual areas, a subjective quest by looking at other turning points would perhaps help us understand this phenomenon better.Strength in Adversity'He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity,' said Ben Johnson. When adverse circumstances force people to examine themselves afresh, true strength of character is often revealed or forged.In September of 1942, a young doctor, his new bride, his mother, father and brother, were arrested in Vienna and taken to a concentration camp in Bohemia. One of the earliest blows he faced was the loss of a manuscript, his life's work, during his transfer to Auschwitz. Another significant moment came while on a predawn march to work on laying railroad tracks. A prisoner wondered out loud about the fate of their wives. The young doctor began to think about his own wife, and realized that it was his hope of reuniting with his family and his will to rebuild his life's work by writing on bits of paper that kept him going. Throughout his ordeal, he began observing that, among those given a chance for survival, it was those who held on to a vision of the future, either due to a significant task before them, or a return to their loved ones, that were most likely to survive their suffering. After liberation, he was shattered when he found all his loved ones dead, but focussed his attention on work, putting all his energies into the development of logotherapy, a new approach to psychotherapy that is outlined in his best-selling book, Man's Search for Meaning. Agreeing with Nietzsche's maxim, 'He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how,' Victor Frankl concluded, 'Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked.'The arrest of a colored woman for her 'crime' of not giving up her seat at the front of the 'colored section' of a bus, to a white passenger, spurred Martin Luther King, a pastor with a doctorate in divinity, to take active part in the fight for justice. The Montgomery bus boycott that forced the US government to change its law of segregation, was the first among many victories that Luther won in the civil rights movement. In 1964, he became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Like his role model, Mahatma Gandhi, he too was assassinated, but not before making his dream of equality a common agenda of all right-thinking Americans.The ability to make such sweeping changes in societal attitudes through individual turning points may not be given to all of us, but each of us can inspire and elevate those around us by the courage with which we turn around adverse situations into opportunities for growth.Losing a limb in combat is not a particularly unusual situation for an army officer. What is unusual, however, is Maj Gen Cardazo's dogged determination to remain an active officer of the Indian Army and to lead his unit. Drawing strength from the biography, Rise to the Sky, of the Royal Air Force pilot, Douglas Bader, who lost both his limbs but still went on to fight admirably in World War II, he resolved to command his Infantry Unit, worked hard to achieve the high physical fitness that was required and then demonstrated his ability to do all that a man with two limbs could do, to the higher authorities. The Army got the rule itself reversed - any person who could prove his physical fitness could now command a unit. Rising to the rank of Major General, Ian Cardazo has authored a book on war heroes called Param Vir and now works in the disability sector after retirement. 'It is my constant endeavor to keep proving that disability is not a handicap,' he says, and is grateful to the Army for giving him a chance to prove this.When a routine appendicitis operation failed, Ketan Shah tried desperately to recover and get back to normalcy. Nothing seemed to work. Desperate, he was ready to try anything and finally got cured through acupressure. Having gone through a series of tests with expensive bills, he resolved to help others in similar situations and mastered this technique. Today, he heals others at his center in Bangalore, accepting only voluntary donations. To fund his center, he conducts workshops and training sessions all over the world, and is renowned globally for his expertise.Dinesh Gupta, a disabled youth, though self-employed through running a photocopying shop, still felt dependent as he continued to rely on the transport of the Spastic Society, which forced him to wind up by afternoon. He decided he must overcome this dependency and limitation and bravely boarded the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus one day. He was in for a shock - the driver rudely told him to stop inconveniencing others, and he had a bad fall as others jostled and pushed him around.Bleeding, this event made him realize that it is only by being seen and heard in the mainstream world that he would be able to sensitize it to the needs of the disabled. Pulling himself up, he filed public interest litigation against Delhi Transport Corporation and founded Abhiyan Disabled Friends Club, a movement that organizes social events and garners support for various initiatives of the disabled. He won the case against DTC, which has since then introduced disabled-friendly buses and also introduced training programs for its staff on the difficulties of the disabled. Today, Dinesh's main aim is to help the disabled integrate with society. 'After all, we have normally functioning brains, and possess a so
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