Thresholds. They are everywhere.
We cross them daily.
But some are more significant than others.
These are the points of no return. Once crossed we are in a different place.
Sometimes we are pushed there. We can’t stay where we are.
Others are our deliberate choice. We want to be there. Not here.
However, the thing about these kinds of thresholds is that there is always an element of the unknown. And sometimes it’s totally unknown.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
As human beings, we have an inbuilt need to have meaning. To make sense of what is happening to us and around us.
Even if we are in a situation where ‘stuff just happens’ to us – outside of our control – our internal chatter wants an explanation.
We don’t hope well with utter randomness.
However, some of our sense-making is so inbuilt and conditioned, that we can’t see it or even hear it. Because “it’s obvious.“
No, it’s not. And whilst at one moment in time it may have helped us – often shielding our tenderest parts – this narrative may not be serving us now.
In fact, it can damage the very transition we are trying to make.
Because to be free to move forward, we need a healthy appreciation of where we are now.
Without it, we become stuck.
And for whatever reason, we cannot let go. Or we try to take things with us that don’t belong in the new place.
However, a ‘healthy appreciation’ isn’t knowing everything. We are finite and imperfect – a work in progress. But each of us does have an internal threshold, a level of sense-making that is necessary for us to cross the boundary.
The narrative of my ‘stuckness’ often revolves around the fear that I haven’t done enough, or been enough, or have wasted opportunities or time. It can utterly skew my sensemaking and reduce my liberty to leave where I am and step into something new.
Even if that is where I want to be.
Daft, isn’t it… But naming it reduces its hold.
What about you?
How do you make sense of where you are? And is it helping or hindering you make your transition?
Crossing significant thresholds requires us to embrace the unknown.
It will be different from what we are familiar with. We may not be able to get our bearings – sense-making – as quickly or automatically as before. We may be unsure of how to behave.
Even the act of going over the threshold is new. Something we have not experienced previously.
This is the liminal space, however brief. And we can’t go round it.
Of course, we can, and do, find ways to prepare ourselves. To metaphorically put on our outdoor clothes.
But if we’ve never crossed this threshold before then we need both courage and hope.
Here’s the thing. Courage and hope are the antidote to fear of the unknown. But they are not the same as ‘knowing’, because even all the knowledge in the world would not be enough. They feed our inner being, our souls, for the step ahead.
But where do courage and hope come from? How are they cultivated within us?
A huge topic! And far too big for today.
But here are some pointers that I have increasingly found helpful:
Internal – what is already inside of us:
- Remembering previous times of crossing thresholds. After all I’m still moving forward and I’ve learnt along the way.
- Gratitude – naming those good things that have enabled me to be at this point of transition, today.
- My storehouse of encouragement – words that I have feasted on. For me that is especially the book of Psalms.
- Who I am – especially identifying who I want to become. Knowing that I can’t get there, without crossing this particular threshold.
External – because this is not a lone venture, even if there aren’t people immediately around us:
- The words of others – feeding on their courage and hope, by seeing through their eyes and listening to their stories.
- Finding the others – those connections and relationships that strengthen us. Increasingly, I appreciate the sheer magnitude of this, and I’m so grateful.
Where is your source of encouragement?
And to whom can you offer more?
Once we cross a threshold, can we go back?
Sometimes. But we are never the same people.
Crossing thresholds, stepping out beyond where we have been, changes us.
Facing an unknown, however small, slays a giant.
To finish, here’s a short blog post from Seth Godin, which I have pinned up by my desk, for your encouragement…
What if today, just for today, we didn’t settle?
What if we saw precisely the change we sought to make and sacrificed to make that change?
What if we set aside urgencies and focus simply on what is important instead?
What if we did the work that matters?Seth’s Blog, 17th December 2019
Enjoy the view
I have finally finished the first draft of my book, with the working title: Quiet Disruptors: a Manifesto for the New Changemakers – for those with the courage to speak softly about things that matter…
Also, I’ve just heard the Brène Brown is launching a new podcast: Unlocking us. Launching in March 2020 it will be such an encouragement to crossing thresholds! Thank you Brène.