Anytime we’re going thru changes, especially those foundational life changes (births, deaths, marriages; companies being founded or merged) or large-scale population changes (wars, pandemics), having a clear structure and guidance for the path forward is absolutely critical to thriving thru it (vs just surviving it).


Below you see the model drawn out in a mural I created while facilitating a live group coaching call.


At left we start with check-ins, a word or two from each person to share how they are doing today. We then collectively harvest any insights and a-ha’s from that quick check-in. This simple meeting kick-off exercise helps everyone get fully present for our time together. It helps us all know who and where we are, in the moment.


As well as where we’re coming from, the perspective we have as entering our call together. Knowing where we are now and where we’re coming from, even if it’s just a general framework without any specific details yet distinguished helps us humans relax. It gets us out of fight or flight mode, where all our energies are focused on survival, into creation mode, where our vital energies can be used for envisioning and living into a new future. Having a structure to operate from when exploring new territories inherently included in making great changes empowers our journey itself, and our results.


I’ve found Gisela Wendling‘s Liminal Pathways of Change Framework (LPCF) to be a fantastically simple yet powerful tool for facilitating individuals and groups (and myself!) thru major life, work and world changes, including on the current SARS-CoV-19 pandemic.

It’s extremely useful in normalizing uncertainty and ambiguity, and being comfortable – even excited! – about this part of the change process. We are all in some versions of this now as the global pandemic affects all our lives in ways big and small, so this is an excellent time to apply this resource.

Gisela’s LPCF model is based on three distinct yet overlapping phases:


I. Separation

This phase is where a change(s) is set in motion, where our existing selves and structures break down as a natural result.

Gisela asserts there are 3 types of change: developmental (moving from one phase of life to another), volitional (changes we choose, including future visioning and strategic planning processes by individuals and organizations) and situational (initiated by something outside of our control, such as the current global pandemic).


Characteristics of this phase, no matter the reason it’s occurring, include: a wide variety of emotional responses (including fear, excitement, anger, hope, grief and more).

Our inner selves are undergoing an awakening and letting go, while our outer selves are engaged in assessing, goal-setting and planning.


II. Transition / Liminality

This phase is the change state, where we are no longer in the old state, but not yet in the new. It’s a “dynamic container for harnessing the vital forces of change”, which Gisela refers to as a Crucible.

Characteristics of Liminality include our inner selves feeling uncertainty, exploratory, loss of identity, vulnerability, leaving behind (our old selves, relationship and structures) and excitement, while our outer selves are engaged in actively managing and real-time adjusting / decision-making as the situation unfolds


Giving ourselves and each other the space and grace to process and release any sense of loss of the old (there is always some, no matter now bad it was) as well as the ruthlessness to not let our ego stay attached to the old from a place of fear for the unknown future is imperative in this stage.


As is an individual and collective willingness to dwell in uncertainty for a time, to not know the answers or what’s next exactly. At first this feels extremely stressful and disorienting, but soon can shift to be extremely freeing and an opportunity if we are willing to perceive it as such.

In fact, the way we view changes makes a fundamental difference in our outcomes and our experience of the process. Seeing it as an opportunity and owning it fully (even if the change is externally applied, such as our current COVID19 pandemic) empowers us to leverage this new opening for our greatest growth! 


III. Integration

Is the emergence and solidification of our new normal. We sense a new beginning, where there is a clear sense of direction based on insights and clarity gained during the liminal phase. Our transformed selves and structures are taking clear shape and form now.


Characteristics of this phase include: inner work of integration and embodiment of our new identities while our outer selves are engaged in actively implementing and normalizing our new thought patterns and resulting behaviors. 

Identifying where we are along the LCPF model for each change we are engaged in greatly facilitates making the transitions, whether it’s an individual moving thru life changes or groups moving thru organizational changes.


What practical use could this info be to you?


If you’re a high-performing individual looking to up level your already awesome life, this is one of the practical tools we might use together in my VIP coaching containers. I’ll draw it out and walk you thru the model as we map you and your situation onto it, and create a clear plan that is best for you!

If you’re decision-making leadership in any group (intact team, ELT, church, family, etc) looking to provide your people with a roadmap for moving thru your organizational changes with a sense of clarity and stability, we’d likely use this model in a group setting so all involved can see where they / you all are now, and where you are going together. 


Either way, connect with me today and we’ll create the best structures for YOU, your team, and your situation.