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A Threshold Perspective

A couple weeks back, a friend sent me a link to "At the Edge of Inside," an OpEd piece by New York Times columnist David Brooks. It's an insightful piece, but with a political emphasis. His definition of various perspectives struck me as relevant and unexplored with respect to a business. For me, the takeaway was the importance of gaining a different perspective, be it from a coach, mentor, implementer, peer advisory group, or Trusted Ally.

Consider a Threshold Perspective.

The premise starts out basic enough - every company has people work there (Insiders) and people who don't (Outsiders). Even within an organization, departments have Insiders and Outsiders. Sometimes this leads to a strong silos. People at the core. People on the outside. Barriers in between.

But there is a third role. The position at the Threshold or Edge of the Core, with a distinct advantage of seeing and understanding multiple perspectives.

  • Insiders: People in the core of where decisions are made

  • Outsiders: People who are either unaware of the insider position, or are aggressively in opposition to it.

  • Thresholders: People who are on the edge - neither on the inside or on the outside.

A person at the edge of inside can be the strongest reformer. This person has the loyalty of a faithful insider, but the judgment of the critical outsider. –David Brooks, NYTimes Columnist

Being on the edge has these distinct advantages:

  1. An equal vantage point to the inside and outside of an organization

  2. Freedom from insider group-think and day-to-day biases

  3. A different perspective on both opportunities and obstacles

  4. A sentinel mindset of guarding what's precious on the inside from what is harmful on the outsideAn inviting mindset of introducing new ideas from the outside into the insular core

Brooks "borrows the concept from Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who lives in Albuquerque. His point is that people who live at the edge of the inside have crucial roles to play. As Rohr writes in his pamphlet “The Eight Core Principles,” when you live on the edge of any group, “you are free from its central seductions, but also free to hear its core message in very new and creative ways.” A person at the edge of inside can see what’s good about the group and what’s good about rival groups. Rohr writes, 'A doorkeeper must love both the inside and the outside of his or her group, and know how to move between these two loves.'"

Is your business in need of reform? Invite someone you trust - a coach, a peer, a mentor, to your door, and consider their Threshold Perspective with an open mind.

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