Liminal Thinking with Dave Gray

Liminal Thinking with Dave Gray

Dave Gray had me at “Assume that you are not objective. If you’re part of the system you want to change, you’re part of the problem.” That teaching was intensified by the basic exercise of writing down my beliefs about a challenging situation I found myself in and then coming up with 3 or 4 alternate beliefs, both plausible and outlandish.” By assuming that we are not objective – Dave’s first of nine practices of liminal thinking – we are already in a better position to more effectively elicit change.

My new favorite book is Liminal Thinking. Dave Gray is this crazy cool mix of design thinking, business team strategist, writer, and enlightened illustrator. I was sort of shocked he agreed to the interview. Then I found out that he is really interested in the results of us ordinary people reading his book and doing the exercises. He said most people don’t do them. So, I invite you, before you listen to the rest of this show, press pause. Write down a challenge you have. Now. “Assume that you are not objective. If you’re part of the system you want to change, you’re part of the problem.” Write down the core belief or beliefs inherent in the way you wrote down your challenge. The more outside your box the better. I’ve found that diametrically opposite beliefs are very insightful here. That’s it. You are thinking beyond your threshold. Welcome to liminal thinking.

Dave’s nine practices of liminal thinking allow us to reach a space where we are more prepared to change ourselves and to change those around us. Creating a safe space to communicate and disrupting a routine in order to get people thinking differently are just two ways we can change our environment to encourage altered perspectives. Tune in to hear Dave explain the power of liminal thinking, and how you can utilize it to make the change you want to see around you. Press play.

Create the change you want by changing the way you think

I rap with Dave Gray about the Changing the Way We Think

  • How to “Hold your theories loosely”
  • Why do we assume we’re objective, when we’re usually not?
  • Where meditation fits into liminal thinking
  • Why travel, moving, new relationship arrangements, and true leaders stimulate liminal thinking

What you’ll get out of tuning in:

  • How liminal thinking can help you transform your relationships
  • Why none of us can be considered objective in our beliefs.
  • What the relationship is between beliefs and needs


Show Highlights:

  • 4:00 – What exactly is liminal thinking and how is it involved in our relationships with those around us?
  • 10:50 – We often let our assumptions about those around us limit our willingness to being open to learning new things about them. Liminal thinking can help us open the door to more effective conversations and experiences with those around us.
  • 37:25 – Despite its power, liminal thinking is not the way in which most people think. Even though it may be an entirely new operating system, this doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of learning how to use it.
  • 42:55 – The importance of fun in any work environment should not be overlooked. When you lose the fun, it is critical to evaluate how to get back to that place, and liminal thinking can help.

Favorite Quotes

  • “You are surrounded by these invisible doorways all the time and you only sort of notice them when you are going through a significant change in your life, but they’re always there and you can access them at any point.” – Dave Gray
  • “We’re not any more objective than anyone else inherently.” – Dave Gray
  • “It encouraged me to get as far away from where my current assumptions lie as I could in the moment.” – Cate Stillman
  • “The only way you can change is by paying attention to what is happening to you in the present moment.” – Dave Gray
  • “Don’t try and changes someone’s  mind, design an experience for them through which their mind will be changed.” – Dave Gray
  • Check out the 9 practices of Liminal Thinking from Dave Gray

Guest BIO:

Dave Gray is a leader and manager with a background in design. He has worked with many of the world’s largest companies, as well as mid-sized businesses, startups, executives and individuals.

He is the founder of XPLANE, a strategic design consultancy, and co-founder of Boardthing, a collaboration platform for distributed teams.

He is the author of two books on design, change and innovation: Gamestorming: A playbook for innovators, rule-breakers and changemakers; and The Connected Company.

His area of focus is the human side of change and innovation, specifically: How can you get people to adopt new ideas? How can you win their hearts and minds? How can you get people, including yourself, to change deeply embedded habits and behaviors? How can you transform a business strategy from a good idea to a living fact in the real world? Connect with Dave on his website and facebook group.

Cate Stillman
[email protected]

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