Emerge from the cocoon and hoist your sail

2020 has been a year for mixed metaphors.

We all started out, doing what we do to various levels of success.  Then stories of a new contagion began to filter out of China.  A few weeks later – kapow! – we find ourselves in lock-down.  As the months pass we realise we are in the midst of a high impact change.

So let’s talk about change and this model from Frederic Hudson:


It is not surprising that there are similarities between the different models for change.  They are after all based on observation of a common human experience.  And this one offers its own unique insights.


Phase 1:  “Go for it”

We are confident in what we do, challenged by difficulties and perhaps feeling fatigued and short on time.  But we are engaged.  We are developing our careers.  We are creative.  We are taking risks and hitting our goals.  We are feeling fulfilled as we work towards our purpose.

Then we hit …

The Doldrums:  Phase 2

We cannot escape a feeling of decline and being stuck or trapped.  We have an unexpressed desire to move on.  Counsellors and therapists are swamped.  This can feel quite grim.

The lockdown is announced.  We shut ourselves in with our stock of toilet paper and long-life milk.  For a brief moment life grinds to a halt.  This is an artificially invoked of “The Doldrums”.  Locked away in our apartments, our sails hang loose.

The mini-transition

But not everyone is stuck.  The entrepreneurs immediately spring into action.  They get the necessary authority to move around.  They make or buy, and sell masks, hand-sanitiser, cigarettes and alcohol.  Some make a lot of money.  The consultants launch their online businesses.

They have done what Hudson called a “mini-transition”.  They restructure and re-energise in one step.  And now again they “Go for it!”

Phase 3:  Cocooning

Still others engage in an enforced sabbatical.  Some of us rewrite our material and investigated other avenues for using our time.  Hudson called this “Cocooning”, a term Faith Popcorn had popularised in the early 80s.

The feeling of being trapped subsides as we reflect on a new purpose and passion.  Anger, grief and loneliness eventually give way to relief and quiet excitement.  Counselling and journaling lead to engaging with friends.  A sense of spiritual renewal, inner peace and confidence awakens.

This is metamorphosis.  Self-esteem, resilience and ‘courage to be’ are the major outcomes.  In phase 1 our fulfilment comes from “DOING”.  Here in Phase 3 or fulfilment comes from “BEING”.  This week I learnt an appropriate German phrase:  “So frei sind wir”  “So free are we” – we can do what we want.

Phase 4:  Getting Ready

In phase 4 we get ourselves ready to launch our new approach.  Our energy returns.  We feel a resurgence of creativity, trust and a lightness of being.  We begin to feel Joy again.  We may begin taking on new risks as we feel a new sense of purpose and creativity.


So where are you in this change?