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Have you ever been struck by the beauty and flight of a butterfly? This interesting creature began life as a creeping, crawling caterpillar. It’s quite the process of transformation to go from a worm-like bug to a graceful flying butterfly.
Photo Credit: thawats
Many years ago, while in the midst of deep personal work and training, I experienced an intense process of growth. As I worked to describe and put into context what was happening to me, I realized that this growth was transforming me, changing who I was or hoped to be. It felt akin to the process a caterpillar undergoes in their journey to transform into a butterfly.
So I decided to study the process of transformation to understand how we can go through various stages of change and come out on the other side radically different. One thing I recognized is that transformation can be compared to the four developmental stages of a butterfly.
According to the Academy of Natural Sciences, a butterfly has four stages of metamorphosis:
What can we learn from a butterfly about individual change?
STEP 1 – SEEDING:
In the world of butterflies, the first step is the egg stage. It’s the start of something truly miraculous even though we can’t see what’s in store. For example, butterfly eggs are tiny and are laid on the underside of plants so, when the time is right, they’ll be in an environment ready to feed.
For personal change, you can start “seeding” by thinking about what you can do today, to prepare yourself for change.
Maybe you’re new to a position, learning a new skill, or ready to start something new and different, and you may feel exposed, vulnerable or unprotected. How can you make your environment more conducive to take those first few steps? What actions can you take to surround yourself with like-minded people or find support when you’re in an egg-like state of making a transition?
STEP 2 – FEEDING:
The second stage of the caterpillar or larva stage is all about feeding. Photo Credit: Bas Petter
Once the caterpillar is hatched, its job is to eat, eat, and eat. During this phase, the caterpillar grows continuously to the point of splitting its skin as many as five times.
Consider your journey. How are you feeding yourself, your passion, your sense of being, and who you are? #BestAdvice
At times, growth may be extremely painful as we “split our skin” wide open, but each time, we can emerge bigger, stronger and more expanded than before.
Are you nourishing yourself or are you stubbornly doing it all on your own and refusing nourishment or help from others?
STEP 3 – PROTECTING:
The third stage for our transforming butterfly is the pupa stage. This is when the caterpillar is full-grown, stops eating, and moves into a transition phase. Its’ cocoon appears dormant but inside there are dramatic changes taking place. Special cells are growing rapidly to prepare for the adult, reproductive stage.
Can you recall an experience of significant change and growth that may not have been evident on the outside? When you’re in this stage, it often causes a period of internal unrest and feeling that everything is changing while nothing is the way it used to be – yet where you’re going or how it’ll turn out is unclear. Outward evidence of what has changed might be small or appear insignificant, but it’s not the time to give up or get frustrated. This is a time to allow the changes to settle and take root and remember that you’ve done the work. Allow the results of your hard work and effort to unfold.
STEP 4 – RELEASING:
The final and most visible phase is the adult stage. It’s when the caterpillar has transformed into an adult butterfly. All the preparation, the work, the changes, the sacrifices, the energy, and effort all come together resulting in the emergence of something miraculous… a butterfly.
As an individual going through change, this is the time to stop holding back.
You’ve gone through the preparation; you’ve given the small gains an opportunity to take hold and become stronger. At some point, you have to release doubts and fears, and let yourself fly.
Photo Credit: leolintang
What will it take for you to claim your inner butterfly? Maybe your first flight won’t be grand, graceful or even smooth, but you’ll never have a chance to soar if you don’t let go and try.
Thoughts and comments are welcomed. If you enjoyed this post, please click the “Follow” or “Like” buttons below and/or share with others. You might also enjoy these other posts I’ve written:
- The Bumpy Journey To Great Leadership
- What Did You Leave At Home Today?
- How To Shine As A Leader
- Where Do You Look For Leadership?
Carly Vivian is President and Co-Founder of Cogency Group. She advises leaders and organizations on how to develop leaders that flow through change with ease, excitement, and enthusiasm.