Embracing Liminal Spaces

Embracing Liminal Spaces

Have you ever experienced liminal space? Liminal comes from the Latin word limens, which means, “threshold.” As in, you are moving on from something that is known, comfortable and normal, but have not yet arrived at a new place. It could be a literal move – leaving one space, yet not knowing where you are going end up. Or it could be figurative.

In business, I find liminal space all around. Massive change takes place at unprecedented speed. Changes in media consumption. Changes in consumer buying habits. Changes in how brands go to market. Changes in how we communicate. Changes in how we work.

In today’s fast changing world, we know things are changing, but we don’t always know what to do about it. Only that what we’ve been doing isn’t working.

Thinking back to the Great Recession in ’08-’09, I spoke to many business owners who were successful before the recession, yet their businesses continued failing after the recession. So many conversations revolved around trying to identify what was changing and how; there was massive confusion. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see there has been a tremendous shift in how business is transacted and conducted. We are no longer in the liminal space; we are operating in a new paradigm.

How do you respond when you find yourself in liminal spaces? It can be stressful. Some people avoid them altogether and instead profess to have all the answers. For others, panic sets in and decisions get made before there is clarity.

In our company, I deal with liminal space every day. In fact, I’ve learned that living in the liminal space is a way of life. Realizing there is a rhythm to business as well as life eases the stress of not knowing. And trust and confidence in yourself, as well as the team around you, makes waiting easier. Sometimes, discernment takes time. And knowing when to push, and when to wait is a discipline.

Are you experiencing liminal space? If so, how are you handling it?