Enlightened Conflict

liminal spaces

September 12th, 2017

transition liminal space change idea experience






“I’m an adult” I whisper as I try not to panic while I’m filling in all those forms that I don’t understand.




“Liminal” means “relating to a transitional stage” or “occupying a position at both sides of a boundary.”









liminal space hallway metroLiminal spaces are real spaces.


Liminal spaces are throughways from one space to the next. Places like rest stops, stairwells, trains, parking lots, waiting rooms, airports feel weird when you’re in them because their existence is not about themselves, but the things before and after them. They have no definitive place outside of their relationship to the spaces you are coming from and going to. Reality feels altered here because we’re not really supposed to be in them for a long time for think about them as their own entities, and when we do they seem odd and out of place.






I plan on discussing liminal spaces as intangible mental spaces.



Liminal Space inbetween threshold

If you feel that you are anxiously floating in the inbetween perhaps you are in The Liminal Space. The word “liminal” comes from the Latin word limens, which means, “threshold.”

“… it is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else.





Mentally … this in-between is a space in which we have lost context … and … oops … our brains love context <and hate lack of context>. This ‘hate’ translates into discomfort, maybe some anxiety and absolutely an innate mental desire to get the hell out of that space and into some space where we can reengage some context.


Rationally we know these spaces are … well … irrational and we can mentally stifle the anxiety … for a while. Because no matter how good we are at stifling it there will always be an underlying sense of uneasiness. In business you either figure out how to manage the anxiety or you are never gonna make it in the business world.


Why? Because a career is riddled with these moments and spaces.


All that said.


I think we, as people, enter liminal spaces in our heads all the time. I don’t mean every minute I just mean on a fairly consistent basis we lose some context and enter into some wretched mental in-between space where … well … we feel uncomfortable. We feel uncomfortable because we are mentally in some transition space from which we cannot envision what will be there <outside this wretched space> when we actually find the exit we can leave the space by.




transitional liminal path grow poetential change

Unfortunately, while we seek an exit to get out of the liminal space … we also feel uncomfortable because <insert a ‘shit’ here mentally> the next step may actually place us into a tangible “unknown” place.


Not only does that suck but … well … we do not like it.


It is a weird combination of tangible and intangible … and  shitload of unknown.


It feels tangible as in you walk in some blank-ish vanilla type room and actually exit by some door which appear at some point. That part we may not like but we can semi-understand.


And, yet, at the same time this space is truly 100% intangible <lacking context> which creates a sense of instability and warped perception space. I imagine a lot of people flail about a bit in this space trying to transitional leap risk think challenge businessnot only find context or something tangible to hold onto but also a frickin’ door to get out of this wretched liminal space.


All the while we flail about in a space naturally encourages some confusion and a lot of “things seem off” feelings.




It not only feels wrong but feels like something is going to go wrong. You cannot really put your finger on it <although most of us try desperately to try to put a finger on something> and it increases anxiety.


Sometimes that anxiety is high and sometimes it is just a bothersome niggling in the head … but anxiety it is <and it is uncomfortable>.


The anxiety occurs because reality is not really being altered but it appears slightly warped. It is kind of like looking through an imperfect piece of glass – where things can look a little fuzzy or odd. Its kind of like time has warped a little and you are coming and going at the exact same time where in the blur of the transition your brain is suggesting “this is not good … this is not normal” and you desperately want to move n … but cannot find that frickin’ exit.


All that sounds horrible.




And it sounds particularly horrible if we are talking about the business world.


The fact is that business people are more often than not judged on how well, and how quickly, they can navigate the mental liminal space.  We in business don’t really talk about it much but a lot of the shit we do is transitioning from the known to some version of known/unknown. That’s kind of what managers and leaders do. And it is certainly a main component of shifting from a young less-responsible employee to an older more experienced responsible employee/manager.


Along the way the stepping stones are actually lily pads with differing expanses & depths of water in between. You either navigate the transitions or drown in the liminal space.




And, yet, liminal spaces are also throughways to places of the imagination – kind of the construction sites of “what will be.”


We like that kind of shit.


That’s ‘future’ and ‘hope of something better’ type stuff.change every step liminal transitional grow imagine


That thought helps us out a little.


It helps because this isn’t the kind of stuff that gives any tangible context but it does give us some fortitude to get through this space.




I admit.


I love the whole concept of a liminal space and I do believe if more people not only learned to manage the anxiety & angst of a liminal space AND embraced the fact it was a valuable transitional space … well … we would be much more efficient & effective in business and in Life in gaining the more valuable “what could be’s” — which are what we all live for anyway.



the death of the mall and a divided america

November 28th, 2016




The impression left after watching the motions of birds is that of extreme mobility – a life of perpetual impulse checked only by fear.



Richard Jefferies




“My fundamental philosophy is that you owe it to society to transfer to them any knowledge you have that might be useful.”



Leroy Hood






Because USA just faced is heinous tradition called ‘black Friday’ <a made up sales day to encourage people to buy things they most likely don’t need under the guise of ‘early start for Christmas shopping’ — this is a made up day beliefs divide people doubt unitescreated by retail sellers solely to sell more shit early> I started thinking about how the ‘death of malls’ was a reflection of the American rural/urban divide.




Maybe the death of malls is a metaphor.




A long time ago I wrote about the convenience economy. Malls were most likely the first step into the larger convenience economy <it had actually existed with the general store – one stop for everything – but malls took it to a new level>. Under the guise of ‘saving time’ convenience and consumption are inextricably linked.

This meant that as malls crept out of suburbia and into rural America it warped the existing attitudes & behaviors affecting the soul of what made rural America <and I could argue what actually made America> what it was – in terms of time, convenience, consumption and , unfortunately, economy.


Joan Didion wrote in 1979: “malls became cities in which no one lives but everyone consumes.”




Malls are almost like ancient ruins … and yet the population still lives in the ruins.

That is what happens when no one consumes but they still have to live.mall-dead-rising


Sprawling malls were a natural product of the post world war 2 as Americans with cars and money spread to the suburbs.

They were thrown up at a furious pace as shoppers fled cities, peaking at a few hundred per year at one point in the 1980s <Paco Underhill author of Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping>.


From there they naturally expanded their reach farther into rural America spreading their ‘urban wares’ to a population who could only have seen those things on tv up until that point.


This all came at a cost.




Rural America paid a price for large retail … the mom and pop small business and down town general stores lost the battle … and a part of the soul & heart of rural America was also lost to malls and large retail. Yeah. In the short term it appeared like jobs were created, tax revenue increased and the local economy improved.


And, yet, in gaining short term economic reasons … culture was lost, some values were lost and … well … local ideas were lost.


This has left us in a farther divided America as malls crashed and burned not only leaving a mall overstock in their wake but as they left <because economics writing-on-the-walls-of-the-mallsuggested they should step back from rural America> they left a ‘less grounded’ landscape behind.


Malls tore out the soul of middle America and never replaced it with anything worthwhile while there … and never placed anything behind when it left.


I have driven across the United States several times. I have seen small businesses in places I could never imagine and seen dying, or dead, shopping malls dotting the landscape most often in locations where there are severe socioeconomic shifts. I don’t know the exact numbers but the last ones I saw suggested that closings of existing malls will number somewhere between 15 to 50%.


It is fairly easy for me to suggest that while artificially bloating the financial economy when there  … their actual success was dependent upon the slicing, dicing and stripping away what was built up over generations.

I would suggest, on a side, note, we have been doing this to rural America for years <not just with malls>.


And I don’t have to suggest because it is fact … that the departure of malls from rural areas has simply exposed the obscenity of their existence. The holes they leave behind  showcase the years of neglect, exploitation, abuse, poor local government decisions, and short-sighted policy which transformed a thriving rural landscape into a hollowed out long list of small towns and cities.


In many of these areas their existence had masked a steady decline <which they had actually contributed to> and their departure put a spotlight on a way of Life shutting down <albeit leaving a population which doesn’t want to shut down yet>.


I would also say, sadly I may add, that spotlight forced a local population to face a pervasive sense of fear and loss.

terror lose meaningful

Having done it … I can say that just driving through town after town of dead malls, closed factories, shuttered stores, abandoned mines, empty schools, roads in need of repair and empty homes … and you can feel their loss.


If you want to get a sense of divided America explore the decline of malls.


Simplistically, Malls are a reflection of eating our own. Just as online shopping is making brick & mortar increasingly irrelevant the malls made the once thriving local business communities less relevant.


But their cost is even deeper than that.


The economy has fundamentally shifted because technology has decreased the costs of entry and performance by businesses. This means business models are quickly shifting because of changes coming faster than ever before.


For example.


Would you invest in a factory that made anything but it took 3 years to build the factory? …..I’m guessing no, because how would you know the thing would still be in demand?


Or that your method of manufacturing would still be the most cost effective way?

Or that your raw materials would be affordable to make the product at a certain price?

Or that your labor costs would allow you to hit certain price points?



What this means is that even a rural economy seeking to refind it’s ‘American mojo’ is faced with an uncertain business landscape which makes it more difficult for a rural community to rebuild a successful local economy based on what they knew, and know, is successful.

american hands

And, yeah, this is more than about money.


Because, yeah, rebuilding a thriving rural economy is not just about money & profits & jobs. It is also about heart & soul & the intangibles.


We urban/suburban folk forget that.


Let me be unequivocally clear <and I hope some politician reads this> … rural American prosperity is not just found in the wallet but in the soul.


In other words … I can place a general store in a small community and the owner doesn’t dream of wealth beyond anything he/she can dream of but rather comfortable earnings and a gathering place so that the community thrives.


Our ‘urban objectives’ are often different than ‘rural objective.’


And maybe that is part of my point on the divide in America.


Equality comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.


An urban idea, malls, stripped parts of America of its soul. And what that meant is while rural America could always stand tall with unequal, as in better, values & soul versus the high falutin’ intellectual urban/suburban folk … malls stripped them of the main portion of what permitted them to remain ‘equal’ even though incomes may not have been equal.




I disagree with some experts who suggest that retail often mirrors the natural life cycle of the surrounding community and it is about demographics.

I believe retail is an organism in and of itself driven by profit not by humanism.


And I believe retail, at its heart, is driven by an urban ‘heartbeat’ which is constantly trying to reapply it to rural America <it is fairly rare to have a rural idea expand to dominate urban>.


I say that because we don’t talk about it often but ‘progress’, which is most often associated with a healthy economic metabolism, is mostly visible in urban/suburban America and not rural America.


Which is … well … kind of nuts.


Why? Because I could easily argue that, in a stark judgement, that America’s achievements were built upon rural America … and, yet, the rising levels of material well-being, education and health actually reside in urban/suburban America.


Add in some fairly shocking statistics on life expectancy and social mobility and the crumbling mall retail structure in Middle America becomes symbolic for many of their woes.


We all know that while the economy may not be robust that wealth is certainly being generated, and often displayed in some gaudy ostentatious ways <see Trump tower as an example> and amazing technological innovations have become common in households and certainly prosperity exists, though almost exclusively in a sliver of America, all of which suggests that the economic infrastructure is visibly changing even while it is semi-working.


And by ‘semi-working’ I go back to malls as an example … it is mostly a system of cannibalism. It is a system and society that is devouring its own.

Urban America has been picking prosperity from the slowly decaying carcass of rural America. This carcass is symbolic of the hollowing out of rural America.


For some long time now, the economy has been driven by investment banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, real estate developers, insurance goliaths and a whole range of companies and industries that make nothing but rather make money off of money.


In the end.


I purposefully used ‘stripping’ and ‘cannibalism’ and ‘eating our own’ because that is what we have done to a significant portion of America … and, more significantly, a portion of America who believes they created America AND believes if anyone would ask them … they could help rebuild America.


I use malls, and their death, as an example of what we ‘innovators of progress’ have done. And while many of us may have acted with real best intentions … it america one heartbeatwas a failure. And, worse, we have failed a significant portion of America.


We don’t owe portions of America because we have taken away their malls … we owe them the assistance to let them rebuild the America they know should be built.


And am I suggesting going ‘back’? Only partially.

The general stores will most likely never return. The mines will never reopen. Some schools are shuttered forever. But to rebuild a community you give them their soul back first & foremost. Anything built with soul will make America great and will last for generations.

Democracy and One

November 8th, 2016

democracy is sleeping


“Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal.







“Life in freedom is not easy, and democracy is not perfect.”



John F. Kennedy







Today USA chooses a new president. I sat down this morning not really sure democracy when who if notwhat to write.


I do know that America is bigger and stronger than any one person.


I do know that even if Trump is elected … someone who I believe is a narcissist and incompetent … it will not be a disaster for the country.


I do know that even if Clinton is elected … someone who I believe will be an unspectacular but pragmatically competent president … it will not be a disaster for the country.




This election feels a little bit bigger than many of the others in the past. I imagine it feels that way because the contrast between the two candidates in terms of true qualifications are so stark not because the objectives are so stark.


Despite what everyone may have been hearing for months on end through media, traditional and social, this election is truly not about change versus status quo.

Why do I say that?

Well. because every president wants to change shit and these two are no different. In fact. The so-called status quo candidate is running on a platform that incorporates more detailed change then the so-called change candidate.


But , in the end, while the new president elected certainly does matter it only matters in terms of tone & broader perspectives.


I think it is helpful to remind people <and congress> of this. It’s because I love our country more than I do my personal points of view that I know the institution of who and what we are as a country is larger than I person and one point of view. It is larger than any individual “I think” or “this must be” because the country ceases to exist if we remain so far apart that we can agree on nothing which inevitably means we either do nothing or do something so banal it will never show an ROI.


So, where I agree with either candidate … I will support them.


If they try to reach consensus, I will support them.democracy direct action people

Where I disagree with them I will continue to disagree and will work to make sure they know I disagree <and if enough people agree with me then they become a one term president>.


That is the way democracy and freedom works.


The people will speak on today, if they vote my way, fine.


If not, then the majority has spoken and that is what a democracy is.


In our country you do not have to win 90% … just the majority. And we should accept the results, keep speaking our mind but also keep moving forward.


That I know as a certainty. Just as I know as a certainty that presidents are one among many and disasters <unless they involve some nuclear button> are not fatal but rather “inefficient decisions.”


And maybe that is where I hope we, as a country, come out of this election.

Maybe a little more interested in listening, a little less reliant on hyperbole and a lot more certain with regard to the value of some compromise over individual opinions.


I do know another thing for certain.


When a citizenry loses the one thing that had been in abundant supply in their lives … the unshakable belief that tomorrow will not be significantly different uncertainty is a bitchfrom today … that creates a sense of uncertainty <which is at the core of everything happening in our country attitude and the election … and what is never talked about>.


Not only is uncertainty a bitch to a general population… but uncertainty makes people feel poorer <even when they are not>, more divided <even when they are not>, less safe <even though they are not> and less hopeful with regard to the future <even when they should see signs of hope>.

In this time & place … this uncertainty has been compounded by the fact we don’t trust anyone on anything <media included> … don’t trust anyone to do what they are supposed to do <government included> … and don’t even trust what was done when they actually do what they were supposed to do <anyone associated with any institution> … well … then … you have a pessimistic citizenry.


All of this suggestive pessimism has not been helped by … well … anyone <with maybe the exception of the president and his wife>.

Political hyperbole, for as far back as I can remember <let’s say a dozen years +>, has created this wretched hollow in which society & citizenry is forced to live in. a wretched place where no one does anything right and is stupid or dishonest or corrupt.


Most sane people know that thought is not true. But even the sanest of us struggle to discern the good from the bad.


Both Bernie and Trump raged against a “rigged system” and stirred up angry crowds.


At any given point all candidates have also raged against the media, against Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump <depending on your view>, against “globalists”, against the government itself, against the democratic process and, well, against a vast host of other corrupt & dishonest villains.


All this has served to do is to create anger where there may not have been any and encourage an embers of potential anger to flame.


I read somewhere that the success Trump is having is because the American democracy isn’t working for most Americans and he reminds them, and us, of that.

I do not agree.

I believe most of us are just certain whether democracy is working for us or not.

In an environment in which truth is difficult to discern and pessimisms and guilt before innocence is encouraged 99% of us are just … well … uncertain.


I do have some certainty to offer anyone reading this.



The world will not end, the country will not implode, regardless of which candidate we elect.



In a country of 350 million or so no matter what you do and how good a decision is made … there will be winners & losers associated with every decision <and I will admit … I wish our politicians would have the kahones to stand up and point out the losers more often rather than celebrate only the winners>.

In a country of 350 million or so the American democracy is working but it is always a work in progress therefore everyone will feel at some point that it isn’t working for them … and that means at any given point anyone will look around and think someone is benefiting when they are not <this occurs even if that person is not officially in the ‘loser’ category associated with a decision>.




Good stuff does not come easy … to anyone.

But that doesn’t mean that good stuff doesn’t happen.


america one heartbeatI say that and I will remind everyone once again, and I wish someone in some fucking paper or news network would point it out at the top of their lungs> … in our democracy American people are perpetually dissatisfied. Always dissatisfied. We always feel like we are not doing as well as we should or, looking around, that we <as in individuals> are being left behind while someone else is doing better <benefiting>.




It is election day.


And we are all uncertain and uneasy.

It does not matter who you support … everyone is uncertain and uneasy.


And that is where we will be tomorrow too. And the day after and … well … you get it.


It isn’t trust or lack of trust. It isn’t anger or rigged or any of the other fabulous labels being thrown around.


It is uncertainty.

It is uncertainty about the direction of the country.

And, at a more basic level, it is uncertainty that the people we choose to elect us will do their job.

And , at an even more basic level, it is an uncertainty that even if we <you & i> work hard, do what is right and fulfill our own responsibilities and duties we will receive ‘fair value’ for our efforts.


I am certain we will end the day with a new president.

I am also certain that tomorrow a significant majority of the country will awake just as uncertain about the everyday Life shit as they were today.


And maybe that is what we should demand of the new president and of the leaders we lect to represent us <senators & representatives>.

Stop creating uncertainty and offer us some more certainty.


We Americans are pretty resilient <if not a little whiney along the way>. We can deal with bad shit as long as you give us some certainty. But if I am uncertain as to what is really good and what is really bad … well … uncertainty gives us candidates like Trump and creates what people feel is anger and drives up distrust for anyone.questions or decision making concept



Beyond all the policies & tactics & taxes & trade deals … and transparency & honesty & all that crap … it sure would be nice if that was high on the next president’s agenda.



As I stated earlier … and maybe that is where I hope we, as a country, come out of this election. Maybe a little more interested in listening, a little less reliant on hyperbole and a lot more certain with regard to the value of some compromise over individual opinions.

And if we do that? Maybe we will be a little more certain <and happier>.

Because the one thing I am most certain of is that 100% of us want tomorrow to be better than it is today.


This I am today, that I will be tomorrow. That is what I am most certain about.


Enlightened Conflict