Liminal Space is Needed for Transformation and Change

For transformation to occur there is a need to create ‘liminal space’.  Liminal space is a concept refined by Victor Turner in his classic study of initiation and ritual.  The Latin word ‘limen’ means ‘threshold’.  This is a space where people can genuinely contemplate new ways of looking at and dealing with life.  This is the ultimate teachable space.  Liminal space is a space of insecurity and discomfort that creates the questioning of and hunger for true meaning.

The opposite is ‘liminoid space’ and this is often offered as liminal space in the form of ‘fun’ and or ‘designed to ensure that no one fails for self esteem purposes’ etc.  This is a space of reinforcing comfort zones of dependence, blame, victim, and provision of physiological and safety needs by outside agencies.  Many conference and corporate training activities deliver liminoid space and so there can be no transformation.

Liminal space is often created by ‘direct hits’ of challenge in a mountain climb or foreign environment, getting basic and dirty, living hard and close to the ground, in perceived ‘life or death’ scenarios, the ‘in your face’ symbolism of ‘star gazing’, the challenge of liking self company enough to ‘listen to the bush’, and then go out in ‘hermitage’, the honesty of finding symbols for Enneagram typologies and energies, and the confronting nature, of ‘Calling the Council’ and the application of the principles of Courage, Honour, and Service.

With this concept in mind, true facilitators of leadership training will look at every activity with a view to creating liminal space and debriefing it.  Meantime, the participants will be struggling to reintroduce liminoid space at all times.  At the end of course or camp, the ideal is that all members, including facilitators, have achieved some form of meaningful and positive transformation towards shaping a happy life.

Joy from a deep inner place with little dependence on the superficial and the outer stimuli is a real and lasting happiness.  The finding of this place is special and unique to each individual.  It is the privilege to facilitate this discovery.

Leadership is measured by morale and so leaders must be masters of liminal space facilitation.

3 thoughts on “Liminal Space is Needed for Transformation and Change”

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