Tapping Into Our Liminal Space

by: Rick Simmons

As we navigate and mature throughout our careers, we hope and expect opportunities for advancement into positions of leadership. These instances are a great example of liminal space – that point at which the past no longer applies, but what will come is still uncertain.

In such moments of personal achievement and excitement, one might not immediately acknowledge reaching the “threshold of unknowing,” or the vulnerability that accompanies these periods of change.

Yet it is crucial to recognize these periods of liminality. When we do, we learn that the challenges inherent in moments of transition do not stem solely from our own capabilities, understanding or experiences. Rather, they are inevitable responses that arise when a crossroads is reached.

It is natural to feel both excited and overwhelmed at the prospect of transitioning into a leadership role. That sense of vulnerability plays a really key role in leveraging these liminal spaces for personal growth and development. You can think of it as the power of uncertainty.

We can understand the positive impact of these feelings by looking back on past moments of adversity, and reflecting on how they’ve helped us grow. As we transition into a new job, we learn how to face our fears and utilize our strengths. By making mistakes at work, we learn how to tackle our tasks efficiently, and with newly gained knowledge we did not have before. Within uncertainty, we can find some of the answers we are looking for; it is something we cannot and should not try to run from.

Whether in our personal or professional lives, leveraging our vulnerability as a means of preparing for and integrating into roles of leadership makes us better able to tap into our highest potential. We accelerate our own growth. By utilizing uncertainty, we create openness to change and are able to use it to make meaningful progress.

Past or current periods of transition into roles of leadership are invaluable. When we take advantage of these liminal spaces, or the periods of transition, we can understand how our personalities shape our management and leadership styles. By recognizing and incorporating the four phases of liminality into our daily routines during times of transition, we can actually allow these periods to help us learn and flourish as leaders.

Our book, Unleashed: Harnessing the Power of Liminal Space, from ForbesBooks, emphasizes the power that lies within discomfort, and lays out the groundwork for teaching others how to tap into their own liminality.