Ace the Liminal Space

I find myself navigating new spaces and places. I seem to be toggling between “The way things used to be” and “the shape of things to come.” The penny drop moment happened at a session hosted by Rachael Starr Bruck titled “The art and practice of being present”. The in-between phase tends to be uncomfortable. The loss of certainty or at least the loss of the illusion of control is difficult to digest. 

The world I knew has gone. Perhaps gone forever. The new world is still taking shape and emerging. I either want to go back to the way things were or fast forward to a future that I can see as stable. At work, in life, and at play, this liminal space looms large. Let me explain. 

I knew how to navigate a physical workplace. I have 26 years of experience finding the best ways to engage in an office. I suddenly had to move to a fully virtual world of engagement. That shift happened abruptly and it took time to adapt. As I was getting the hang of online engagement, I now need to navigate a hybrid workspace. I wish I could go back to the old ways. I am fine if I have to adapt and embrace the new. But the new keeps shape-shifting and hence I am caught in this in-between space. The Unknown makes it difficult. The lack of clarity and certainty makes it hard to settle into a rhythm. This is the liminal space many of us have to operate in today. 

In life too, when it comes to parenting, I find myself in another liminal space. Caught between two worlds. A boy left home for college and a young man returns in the summer holidays. I am still the dad but I need to learn new ways to be a good parent. The entire family for that matter is finding ways to navigate this new space. Sometimes boundaries are needed and other times the wings of freedom are required. In between the boy and the young man, we all need to find a balance. A new phase will emerge but for now, we are in that in-between space. 

At play, on the tennis court, my mind and body are playing different games. In my head I still have my booming first serve, my elbow reminds me otherwise. I am caught between competing with my 10 years younger and fitter self and the reality that I am more suited for a leisurely doubles game rather than a spirited singles. So, the liminal space rears its head on the tennis court too. 

Rachel’s session highlighted the importance of being fully present and aware of these spaces. Instead of trying to race through or past them, it now occurs to me that they are wonderful places and spaces to explore. In attending to these liminal spaces with an open mindset, embracing them rather than trying to get past them from the discomfort and unfamiliar there is the opportunity for something new and beautiful to emerge. 

Enjoying the new opportunity at work to explore the wide-open canvas to architect meaningful change. Settling into the next phase of parenting and admiring the young man and all that he is achieving and who he is becoming in the process. Refining my second serve so that it has such a big kick and such an awesome angle it’s tougher to return than my booming first. These are just a few of my favourite things. 

Liminal spaces can illuminate my life. I must learn to be fully present and accepting of what is happening around me and in me. Learning to be me and allowing what needs to emerge. Show me another liminal space and I will serve another ace. The space between two spaces is a place of renewal and re-imagination. EmbrACE the beauty of the in-between, it is the present.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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