All great transformations start from within. One of the most incredible is the caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly. Anyone who feels that a life change is impossible to make need only look to the chrysalis to see that nothing is impossible with vision, internal transformation, persistence, and collective action.
Within the chrysalis, the caterpillar first disintegrates into a clump of cells, the larva, which is formless and chaotic — much like the chaos in our lives and in our world from which the greatest transformations are born.
Within this larva, a new kind of cell emerges, which scientists refer to as imaginal cells. These cells are where the butterfly-to-be is first imagined. At first, the caterpillar’s immune system destroys these cells because they are foreign to the organism and therefore seen as a threat— just as society tends to react to any new idea, any vision for truly great, momentous change.
But the imaginal cells persist and group together, forming imaginal disks. The more they cluster and the more they share, the stronger and more numerous they become until they reach a tipping point—becoming the primary cells in the organism, forever changing the consciousness of the caterpillar to that of a butterfly.
Much like stem cells in the human body, the imaginal cells transform themselves from blueprints for the entire organism to specialized cells for different tissues—muscles, nervous system, even the heart. Four imaginal disks will become the butterfly’s four wings. In other words, the imaginal cells create the butterfly from the inside out.
These amazing cells don’t simply appear out of thin air. They are within the caterpillar from a very early stage of development, yet they can’t work their magic until the caterpillar reaches the last stage of its life as a caterpillar. Only then are these dormant cells able to emerge, work together and completely transform the caterpillar into a butterfly.
The message for us is clear: Our potential for greatness, to Radically Reinvent™ ourselves dramatically, does not wane but nears its peak as we age. The transition to midlife and later years is the larva from which we can reimagine ourselves and fly.
We’re in this together.
Learning how to evolve consciously will not only benefit us as individuals but will benefit all of humanity. Imagine the effect we can have on the world if we no longer discount the contributions we can make beyond midlife but instead collectively transform ourselves to be even greater, to fully express our gifts and passions, and to lead the world into the Age of Greatness™.
Instead of the single imaginal cell dying off under the attack of personal and global tragedy— job loss, market crashes, recession, loss of loved ones, poverty, climate change, terrorism and war—we can work together to reinvent the world as we reinvent ourselves. The more we own our greatness, the greater the impact we can have on the world.
Radical Reinvention is a process of personal evolution. There’s no magic wand, however. There are some pitfalls to avoid. Reinvention most often backfires when:
- We fail to properly research what we think we want
- We are lacking the inner resources required to fuel the change process
- We begin following a road that is not on our map
Professional reinventions go hand in hand with personal reinventions. Radical reinvention is not an intellectual process, but one of mind, body, and soul.
Before undertaking a reinvention, assess carefully. You may have so many interests or options that you can’t immediately discern what you want, or you may be so burned out that you can’t even determine the “right” questions to ask.
Consider working with a pro steeped in Radical Reinvention expertise. If you serve and/or are 40+, be sure your advisor/certified coach specializes in the needs, concerns and wants – as well as the challenges of conflated ageism and sexism – that face professionals and executives in midlife and beyond.
For more in-depth exploration of professional and personal Radical Reinvention™, please check out my other stand-alone mini-series book titles, on mastering radical reinvention, Future By Design, and Ageless Reinvention (also as Chapter 9 in my foundational best-selling book, The Ageless Way.)