Moving Through the Fire: Skills for Navigating Challenges



By Dr. Theresa Bullard


Most everyone would agree that life at times can be challenging.  Jobs change, relationships end and new ones begin.  There may be times of financial difficulties or challenges at work.


Depressed man with fist clenched leaning his head against a wall


Life, it seems, is always in a state of change, and through change comes transformation.


In order for transformation to take place, it requires a catalyst or a breaking point.  Last week we introduced the concept of this breaking point known as Calcination, the first stage of the 7 Stages of the Alchemical Process of Transformation. This week we look at how to move through this stage and apply these principles to a leadership role.


Moving Through the Fire


Fiery Running Man On A Black Background

 -Rather than avoiding or fearing the breaking point, willingly “move into the fire” so to speak.


An image of a road to the horizon with text time for change

-Recognize the challenge is a sign that something inside you or your organization needs to change.


Surfer rides Big Wave, In the Tube with Sunny Blue Sky

 -Instead of being passively swept up by the tides of change, develop the ability to recognize the early signs that they are coming, and then lead the charge to catch that wave, rather than being pummeled by it. In other words, be proactive.




-Make a list of the things you know are imperfect or getting in the way of progress, i.e. identify your “lead”, then make a plan and step into action to root out and eliminate those issues.


Close up image of human hands holding sprout

-See the situations that are arising and “putting on the heat” as OPPORTUNITIES for growth, improvement, and ultimately for transformation.


Creative Business

 -Take on an attitude of Embracing Transformation and find a certain sense of excitement or adventure in the journey.  To do this requires we cultivate a combination of courage, risk-taking, and willingness to sacrifice what no longer serves or whatever is getting in the way of progress (including and especially internal blocks or false limitations).


In our 7 Keys to Cultivating the Creative Advantage, the above attitudes relate to the 6th and 7th keys of embracing Uncertainty (as you don’t know where the next change will take you, but you can see it as an opportunity to harness new potentials) and operating at the Edge, or cultivating those attitudes and capacities within yourself and your team to strive towards peak performance.


Finding Strength During Challenges as a Leader


When you as a leader embrace transformation and proactively strive to work with and harness the change-process, rather than fear it or avoid it, then you will truly start to master your role.


Businessman holding fire flames in fist. Power and control


Thus, when a challenge or conflict arises, learn to redirect it, using it as fuel to fan the fires of transformation.


A leader must have foresight and help their team or constituents recognize the opportunity inherent within the coming change, and then support them to take a more optimistic or proactive attitude towards it, rather than a victim-attitude.



To do this effectively, you can help reflect to each of the people involved about the role they have played in contributing to the issue, and empower them to be responsible. In reflecting to your team members, it is important to not come from a place of ‘make-wrong’ or chastisement, but from a place of authentic communication about the inner human side of change that is needed in order for the whole situation to transform to a higher level of order.


Furthermore, rather than putting the responsibility on the shoulders of those few individuals who might be at the root of the current issue, a leader recognizes that they are simply a reflection of the whole, or a symptom of a bigger issue.


the butterfly


Transformational leaders understand that, “We are all in this together. We are all in the same alchemical vessel that this team is, and therefore, we are all responsible and we must all go through this change together and help one another through it.” This removes the negative emotions of guilt, blame, shame, judgment, separation, etc that can create “bad-blood” between team members and fester into even deeper issues. Instead, it helps to further pull the team together when they recognize that their leader is not pointing fingers at them, and rather is helping guide them through the change process.


Stay tuned! Next week, I’m excited to share a simple yet powerful exercise for creating positive change in your life or organization.


This entry was posted by Jessica on January 14, 2015 at 5:34 pm, and is filed under Leadership, Transformational Leadership. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.Both comments and pings are currently closed.