Crossing the threshold into the future

A child steps uncertainly from one post to another -- will he make it?In a world filled with change, it is often not the physical changes people find difficult but the emotional letting go of the way the world used to be and the taking on of a new role or identity.

These psychological responses are called ‘transitions‘. They come in three stages.

The first is to Separate from the way the world used to be and turn to face the future.

The second is to step forward into the unknown: leaving behind the security of the old world and taking the risk to try to build something new.

This is the chrysalis stage between the caterpillar and the butterfly where everything is undefined.

Crossing the Threshold

As people cross this ‘Threshold’ stage they can find themselves feeling uncertain, disoriented, lonely, vulnerable, or afraid. Your role as a leader here is to provide structure.

In a churning world this can’t be rigidly imposed: it has to be something that people develop and build for themselves.

There are two ways you can help people to achieve this more quickly:

— First, bottom up, you can encourage people to find their own ways of coping with uncertainty, by developing their personal capacities for inner leadership.
Teach them especially to centre and ground, make sense of their situations, and find more opportunities in a crisis. Then they will become confident of their ability to manage their uncertainty and find more solutions to it.

— Second, top down, you can provide structure by putting in place the culture of your future vision.
Management guru Peter Drucker wrote that, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The Threshold phase brings you the opportunity to put that culture into place, by defining the values that will make your vision succeed, why they matter, and how you will put them into practice. (By doing so, you immediately achieve half your vision.)

The outer world might be churning but the tools of Inner Leadership enable you to create stability, both for individuals and organisations.

One day you will look back at the Threshold stage as a time of freedom. So treat the ambiguity of this period as an opportunity for innovation, exploration, and adventure. Switch from asking “Are we there yet?” to “Are we heading in the right direction?” Experiment!

In the Threshold stage all things are possible.

When did you last experience a major shift in role or identity? As you began that new role did you experience a large amount of uncertainty? Would it have been useful for you to have had in place a clearer vision of what you were working towards; clearer values to apply; stronger tools for enabling you to keep calm in a crisis, make clear sense of new situations, and find more opportunities in a crisis?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Tom via StockPholio.net

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