What is liminality?
In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold”between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.
More simply , Liminality is the process of transformation
We often resist this process. There is a call, a pull to become something new, to shift our identity, but it’s scary. We feel uncertain and out of control because of this sense of ambiguity.
Often it is fear of the unknown and limiting beliefs that gets in the way of us crossing this threshold.
Examples of these “thresholds” in personal, leadership and organizational life are:
- You are in the process of changing careers
- You are entering a new life stage( entering the workspace after being a student, entering retirement)
- You’ve moved to a new country or city
- There is a shift in an intimate relationship( you are getting married, divorced, or becoming parents)
- You are being promoted to a leadership position
- Your business is poised for reinvention because of a shifting marketplace.
- You are stressed, overworked and unfulfilled. You know you need to make a drastic change to bring your life into balance
- Your team or organization gets a new leader.
- Your organization merges with another one.
- There is tension between individuals or departments in the organization.
- The relationship between staff and management shifted and became distrusting.
How can coaching support you through liminal periods?
Coaching facilitates a process of normalizing and acknowledging this space, then guides you through possibilities and kindles your creativity in focussing and finding clarity in where you are headed. It then supports you on this road and keeps you moving forward through purposeful action.
A liminal space is a difficult, but vital space, and it is beautiful. It expands and transforms you into the person/leader/team you REALLY want to be.
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