Going Liminal: Rest easy in this place

April 17, 2020 | #GoingLiminal Series

How many times have you been asked how you are doing over the last few weeks? For me it’s many and my standard answer is ‘I’m ok’. But if pressed, I admit that, at times, I wonder if I’m on the pitch or the sidelines, perhaps I’m even questioning where the pitch is! There is much to do at Anthesis, it needs leadership, that’s what I’m paid to do, and to lead you need to know your organisation and be physically present. That’s the way I’ve been programmed.

This week a friend told me I was in a ‘Liminal Space’. Having never heard of this I went away and looked up the definition: “The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning”. Liminal spaces are ‘transitional or transformative spaces‘. They are the waiting areas between one point in time and the next. Often, when we are in liminal spaces, we have the feeling of just being on the verge of something.

Richard Rohr, the author and theologian describes it as:

“…where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed…If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy”.

Richard Rohr, Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004), 135–138.

The last three weeks have been populated with remarkable examples of innovation by our clients and my colleagues. We are finding new ways of doing things that are actually better and we will probably want to stick with them post COVID. Sound familiar? Could Liminal be the pitch, a new sense of place in the midst of this upheaval? It’s not the ‘new norm’ but a place where newness can begin and a better place can be revealed.

I’m no longer thinking of COVID lockdown as a place to hunker down, get through it as fast as possible and back to the ‘norm’. This is where transformational change is happening, it’s where we design and start to ‘build back better’.. Let’s recall our pre COVID language for a moment… the next 10 years will be the pivot point in history, what we do in the next decade to address the climate crisis and sustainable use of resources will determine the next many 1000’s of years. A liminal mindset might give us the perspective to see the opportunity in this crisis, and focus on what we all need – an accelerated period of transformational change, starting from this unique moment in time.

We’ve been saying we need this at the start of the ‘decisive decade’. Well it’s here, we have it, let’s not waste it.

I’m now resting more easily in this place and I’m looking forward to running onto the pitch with even greater energy.

Stuart McLachlan

All opinion pieces were first shared on LinkedIn.

Stuart McLachlan
Chief Executive Officer
As CEO of Anthesis Group, Stuart's focus is on growing the business to become the global market leader in making organisations more sustainable and to contribute to a more productive and resilient world.

Going Liminal Series