If I’m paining, I must be gaining – or realize that I’ve reached another of those thresholds, right? Time to get excited – growth must be around the corner!
When last have you recognized that you have crossed over a new threshold, or that you are facing a new threshold? We face them all the time, don’t we? Often without realizing that.
Thresholds are all around us
I used to teach my kids about this when they were growing up. I would encourage them whenever they felt challenged that they may just be facing a new threshold. I would have them reflect that when they started in Kindergarten, they were “bottom of the heap” so as to emerge as the “big children” when a few years later they were ready to go to “big school” and felt really proud. However going into primary school could feel pretty daunting, right? Can you remember this from your childhood? We were again “bottom of the heap” until we reached the end of that chapter. Once again the younger ones looked to us as “top of the heap”. But it was a different story when we arrived at high school, right? The same eventuated in our tertiary education. And guess what we felt when we completed that and were ready for the workforce? For the “big wide world”.
However, if we look back on each of these thresholds, we notice what we have learned between entering that chapter and leaving it, don’t we?
And so it goes throughout our life, right? We go through so many chapters, passing through a new threshold each time. Albeit sometimes feeling quite daunted by the unfamiliar I remember later in life learning from that recognition that I could get excited about such a threshold or chapter, because of what I was now going to learn from it and of course from the opportunities it brought me.
In my work as a CIO I orchestrated the procurement of many significant technology solutions and services for my company which we then implemented in-house. Vendor management is a large part of the success of that aspect of the role, particularly when we became so dependent on their solution delivering large parts of our value to our clients.
I was taught very early in my career that you accord vendors the same respect your grant your customers, because very often your business success depends on them just as much as it does on your customers. I wasn’t afraid to use smaller, less known vendors sometimes because they were often “hungrier” and more flexible, often even more innovative than their larger corporate competitors and certainly more price sensitive.
I recall sometimes having to “counsel” them about them having reached another threshold in their business where their service levels had lagged behind their growth thereby adversely impacting the outcomes or results we were depending on them for.
Your career thresholds
Think about your career for a moment, whatever it is you do. How did you feel when you started your current role? Very excited about the new challenge and the rewards the results would bring both you and your organization? You bet. Perhaps a little daunted by what you might have bitten off, and how well you will cope with chewing it? You bet. However, go back a step. Wouldn’t the success you achieved in your previous role have led to your being considered for this role? And isn’t it therefore more than likely that if you continue to focus adding your own special value to whatever you do, you will be just as successful in meeting or exceeding expectations on this one? Why would it be any different? And in a number of years you may well be in a similar situation where you are ready to repeat that cycle. Until you get to “that age”.
In my coaching I encounter numerous people in corporate roles that feel threatened by reaching the “magic age of 50”, thinking that this is the threshold that companies “chuck people on the scrapheap”. We know that as we climb the corporate success triangle, it tends to narrow as we get closer to the top, right? There are less such roles available. Things are more competitive there. Many believe that if you add the age dimension, that over 50’s are at a disadvantage at this point.
I like to help reframe that for them at that point. What if we inverted that triangle? What if we saw the value of our experience as the driver, not our age? What if we broadened the horizon beyond having to stay engaged in the “corporate ladder”? What if we saw this new (age) threshold as an opportunity instead of a threat? For example as an opportunity to leverage all those decades of experience and expertise through consulting it to the Corporates instead? Or perhaps leveraging that in the form of training or mentoring? Or perhaps taking it into your own business?
So What Next: Challenge
So what if you are facing a serious challenge right now? Maybe one you are really stressing over. Would it be helpful for you if you were to reframe that and think about what led you to that situation? To think about it differently? To view it from some new perspectives. To dissociate from it by looking at it from “outside in”instead of from the “inside out”? That perhaps this is just another threshold you are facing? Think about what you are going to learn from it when you “get to the other side of it”. I also talked about this in my blog So when you face a challenge…
I sincerely hope that you are able to apply these ideas not only to your own situation, but also in your leadership of others. Helping them understand that when they might be facing a challenge, it may well just be another threshold. That it’s quite normal. Today I use it in my coaching all the time, and find it relevant and useful across all different roles and at all levels all the time.
You may also want to read more about this from New Business Start-up Thresholds where I take a more business focused approach.