“Why?” is undeniably a powerful question. But we often think about our why in grandiose, abstract terms. We tend to emphasize the philosophical rather than the practical. And yet, at its core, “Why?” is the most practical question that you can ask. And the one you always need to be prepared to answer. Don’t tell people what to do, or how to do it. Instead, get them excited about the why, the way it makes a difference, no matter how prosaic and simple the task at hand might be.
Liminality—the idea of in-between spaces as a source of growth and transformation—is a simple construct that’s difficult to live through. The art of storytelling is a complex, rich mine of insight with a similarly simple construct beneath it. The traditional of three-act narrative owes a lot to liminality, because it borrows a great deal from how to navigate the places in-between. Story is what shows us how to live, to imagine and to consider what’s possible. The same structure is what allows us to grow and succeed.
I’ve been exploring liminality and in-between spaces in a few posts. And while the structure is simple, and the ideas it offers are profound and meaningful, actual living in and transitioning through liminal spaces is often anything but clear, ordered or certain. There can be a great deal of fuzziness, frustration and even fear. I thought it would be helpful to explore what it’s like to actually live in the in-between spaces.
The idea of liminality is a simple one. It describes a progress by which significant transformation can occur. But within a simply presented model, there are a lot of moving parts. Attempting to navigate through in-between spaces takes work and effort. Knowing what to look for and what to expect helps make that a little bit easier.
The space in-between where we have been and where we are going is where change and transformation occur. The challenge is that while navigating liminal spaces is challenging enough on an individual basis, it gets exponentially more difficult when we try to do this in groups. Whether planning navigating change or planning strategy, facilitating the creation of an in-between space that genuinely allows for creative exploration is a significant undertaking. Liminality provides some insight into how to make that happen.
Change is a process. And while it is a difficult one, it doesn’t need to be quite so painful and messy as what we often experience. Better navigating change requires recognizing that most of the transition happens in the space between what was and what will become. We need to let go, and be guided through that transition. That requires rethinking some of what we know and believe about projects and change.