The Secret Lesson In The Transformation of a Caterpillar

The process of a caterpillar evolving into a butterfly is a powerful metaphor for transformation. When born, the caterpillar gorges on leaves until it is time to transform. Then, it stops eating, hangs from a twig or leaf and spins its cocoon. In this protective casing, it proceeds to dissolve itself into a goo. What survives are highly organized groups of cells called imaginal discs… group for each body part.


Once everything is dissolved, the caterpillar uses the protein-rich soup of dissolved goo to feed the imaginal discs and they grow into a butterfly, who, when ready breaks out of the cocoon and emerges in its transformed form.


For us, transformation—which has newness at its foundation (versus incremental improvement)—can be quite destabilizing. In order to create a new way of being or a new approach requires disrupting the status quo. Transformation can be challenging, disrupting, uncomfortable, and disruptive. It is not the path of least resistance. So, what keeps us going through the challenge? The guiding beacon is a vision of where you are headed, what you are committed to. That is our version of the caterpillar’s imaginal discs, and it requires imagination also. Our vision can pierce the mess of radical change—transformation. In fact, it is the organizing dynamic through it all.


The disrupted parts of the process—our own version of dissolved goo—can actually be fuel for the transformation happening—like it is for the caterpillar’s imaginal discs. But, for that to happen for us, we have to release the normal resistance to these inevitable challenges and relax into their reality. Then they can become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.


What current parts or events of your life feel like goo? Perhaps they are fuel for something brand new. If you released your resistance to them, what would emerge? Think about it.

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