In Transition

Chinese Danger: Risk+Opportunity

I am in transition.  I am voluntarily leaving a good job, to move on to something else – I’m not sure what.   I’ve been the Director of the Master of Science in Global Leadership program at the Universtiy of San Diego for six years.  I’ve had fun, and I believe I’ve served this position well.  It is time however, to move on – this  isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life.  Now, I’m ‘in transition’ to whatever lies ahead.

Yes, there are practical considerations.  Mary Anne and I have prepared for this step by arranging our finances and our life style to give us some flexibility for a while (without great sacrifice, I might add – we live pretty simply.)  Rather than frantically searching for my next job and my new identity, I am able to take time to think, reflect, and reassess, consider options, and even enjoy this nether-world state of being ‘in transition.’  

Who am I, and what do I want to do?  These are important questions most of us don’t spend much time considering.  We are busy taking care of the multitude of responsibilities and obligations we have to our work, family, friends, and community.  I now have time, and the need to think through – ‘what next?’

In America, more so than in many other cultures, we ARE what we DO, and our social identity is very much tied to our title and our profession.    Right now, I can say   ‘I used to be somebody’ – I used to be a Captain in the Navy, I used to be a Navy SEAL, I used to be the Director of MSGL at USD, I used to be a lot of things.  Now I’m ‘in transition’ – a euphemism for ‘unemployed,’ or maybe ‘retired.’  I am NOT retired, I insist.  I am ‘in transition.’ 

I’m finding that being ‘in transition’ can be interesting and exciting. 

As I consciously embrace being ‘in transition,’ I begin to appreciate its advantages.  The world becomes more interesting.  I see opportunities and possibilities where before I wasn’t looking.  I consider what is most important to me – what do I ‘need’ and what ‘feels’ right, versus what would be nice to have.  I am refreshing my network and renewing old friendships.  It’s enjoyable to be reaching out and reconnecting with friends, old and new, as well as with acquaintances, who could become friends.     And inevitably I’ll say, “…and if you hear of anything that you think might be a good fit for me, I’m available, but not desperate.”   No one wants to have coffee with someone who is ‘desperate.’

I’m beginning to think that perhaps we are always ‘in transition.’  We and the world around us are always changing, and we are constantly creating ourselves anew, from who we used to be, to who we are now, to who we will be in the future.   We are  in a perpetual state of ‘becoming.’  Getting married, having children, moving, losing a loved one, or leaving a job are merely dramatic reminders that our lives are not static, that our circumstances and the world around us are always changing.   How we respond to events, everything we think, say, and do, and all of our decisions, create the world we will live in tomorrow.    Some call this our ‘karma.’   For most of us, our ‘karma’ is not part of our everyday consciousness and awareness.  Transition however, is all about ‘karma.’ 

I’m realizing that what I’ve done and how I’ve lived in the past, will determine my opportunities in the future.  Things I’ve done well, with heart and commitment, things I have done to serve other people, or in support of causes I’ve believed in passionately, open doors for me.     I also realize that things I did NOT do well, sincerely, or with passion, or relationships I did not nurture, have left doors closed that might otherwise be open to me.   I’m ‘in transition’ to a future that will be determined by what I put my heart into in the past, what I did well, and with passion.

What I have learned is this:  Whether we realize it or not, we are always preparing ourselves (well or poorly) for what lies ahead.   We are essentially always ‘in transition’ to what we will be doing tomorrow.  I believe however, that our future is determined not by WHAT we do, so much as by HOW we do what we do.   Do we act with joy, respect, passion, and enthusiasm?   Or do we live, and work selfishly, apathetically, resentfully, cynically?   How we do what we do creates the karma that determines our future.

Being ‘in transition’ is a creative process.  I am reinventing myself – creating someone new out of who I ‘used to be.’  I’m enjoying having some flexibility and time to reflect, reassess and branch out into new areas.  I am excited about the future.  There will be some bumps in the road, but I’m confident that something good is going to happen – I just don’t know yet what. Stay tuned.

And whether you realize it or not, dear reader,  you too are ‘in transition.’

7 thoughts on “In Transition

  1. Thanks, Bob, for sharing your thoughts. I have been in this “transition mode” since retiring from the Navy in 1991. I have learned two things important to me. First, simplify your life and second, keep healthy. Simplifying allows you to enjoy travel, grandchildren and reading a good book. As you know so well, without good health you have nothing. I am certain that you will make all the right decisions about your future. All the best.


  2. Excellent perspective, Bob. As one also in transition, your comments reminded me to be very selective in what I choose to pursue in my next professional engagement. You are most certainly still somebody with a distinguished background and bright future. I’m fortunate to be in your network. Best regards, Marv


  3. Bob,
    First off, I was thinking about you on Veteran’s Day, which is what led me to your profile- thank you for your service.
    I did not expect to find your “in transition” thoughts but am so glad I read them. I felt like you pulled that straight out of my brain! It is so interesting that our “identity” usually comes from our career. I’ve struggled with that my whole life, as I’ve “tried out” so many different things. And you are so right- it’s “how” we do it- my “lessons” have always been about staying true to my integrity.
    I am so excited for you right now. The future possibilities that lie ahead are endless. Enjoy every moment- it’s a (well-earned) gift. Be present. Be aware. Opportunities are always there- you just have to choose to be open to them and recognize them. You are in a rare, amazing, self-chosen position and I can’t wait to hear about all of your discoveries and insights. Thank you for sharing. And by the way, my friends and I refer to this time a’s a “natural break”. xo


  4. You are so skilled at putting your thoughts into words and, as usual; they made interesting reading!

    Being such a deep thinker, you will, I know, make the right choices for your future career and your next “incarnation”. Everything you do is done with great enthusiasm and commitment and whatever sphere of activity you choose will be immensely lucky to have you.

    I look forward to your next fascinating epistle!

    Good Luck and best regards, Sand


  5. If you were to create an organization (or product, service, etc.) entirely your own, what would it be?

    Now might be the time, Bob . . .

    Dan B.


  6. Do you know Tennyson’s poem, when an older Ulysses decides he’s tired of hanging around the palace and is going to again head out: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”?

    Fair Winds and




  7. Pingback: A New Chapter « (Not so) Deep Thoughts

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