When something or someone has been a reassuring presence for a long time, it it can be pretty disorientating when they disappear. Of course, I am referring to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II last week, but could also be alluding to your favourite boss retiring, a restructure, a corporate buyout, or even a divorce.

If someone said ‘The Queen,’ you knew exactly which queen they were referring to. She had been such an institution for so long; whether you are pro- or anti-monarchist, you still felt that consistent presence even if you had never met or seen her in the flesh.

Queen Elizabeth II was a known quantity; dependable and enduring when everything else in the world was changing. She was driven by faith and propelled by duty, characteristics which are rare in today’s culture of fleeting celebrity. It reminds me of the calming presence of Nelson Mandela in his lifetime as the President of South Africa.

A new Prime Minister, the death of a such long-standing sovereign and a new King, all in the same week, is a real shake-up pushing the United Kingdom out of its comfort zone; from the known to the unknown. This will be a doorway for newness and change, while some things like tradition (which the British do so well) will stay the same.

When I was growing up, my dad and I had an annual ritual of listening to ‘The Last Night of the Proms’ together and, later watching it on television. Listen to the always stirring rendition of Pomp and Circumstance (Land of Hope and Glory).

Changes you may be facing right now

I think of my business clients, some of whom are going through big internal restructures, others through corporate buyouts, or the introduction of artificial intelligence in their businesses. All these disruptions cause great uncertainty that hit very close to home, raising questions such as:

  • Whether or not they will have jobs tomorrow?
  • Where they might be reassigned within the organisation?
  • Whether they will be retrenched?
  • Who their new boss will be?
  • Whether they will be expected to work in a new location?
  • If the programme/project they are working on will continue?

Changes like these are externally imposed and are often accompanied by feelings of:

  • Shock
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Betrayal
  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Grief

The journey to acceptance of disruption is important

“While disruption can make us feel incredibly threatened, it invites us to step into a process of adjustment and transition. The word ‘process’ is important here; it means we move through various stages as we internalise change… Everyone goes through the same seven stages of adjustment and transition. Some will do so faster. Some will need more time… Step into the process, trusting that you will survive, and keep moving. Even baby steps will do.”

A quote from Future-proof Yourself (Penguin Random House, 2021), my book on dancing with disruption.

7 Stages of adjustment to any kind of change

There are seven stages to adjusting to any kind of change, whether it is traumatic or not. They are not necessarily linear. You will move backwards and forwards through them, whether you are mourning a change at work, a shift in a personal relationship, or the passing of The Queen of England. Through your shock and loss, you must take responsibility for creating your own future rather than becoming a victim of circumstance.

The seven stages:

  1. Immobilisation
  2. Minimisation
  3. Depression
  4. Acceptance
  5. Testing
  6. Search for Meaning
  7. Internalisation

Dance with disruption

Whatever you are going through right now that may be making you feel off-kilter, read my Dancing with Disruption Download to give you comfort, insight and more details about the seven stages to help you understand your journey.

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life

Disruption and reinvention is a key focus of much of my work. Reframing Disruption to Win @ Work and Life continues to be an incredibly popular presentation. I will present it at the Global Speakers Summit in Dublin next month. Book it for your staff. You will not be disappointed.