0:00:00 - Betsy Jordyn
I don't know about you, but I definitely struggle with the fear of the unknown, especially when I'm making major changes in my business and my life. So listen into my conversation with Dr Chris Hoff on why we all struggle with it and what to do about it in this episode of the Enough Ready Podcast. Welcome to the Enough Ready Podcast. This is the show for consultants and coaches who want to forge their own pasts of success in their careers and their lives. I'm your host, Betsy Jordyn, and we got to get real here. So here's the reality. Big changes always create big fears and there's really good reasons why.
So today I wanted to bring on the show Dr Chris Hoff, who is one of my members in my Purpose to Profits Academy, and he's somebody who's transformed his career not just once, but twice. So he went from an entrepreneur to a therapist and having a therapy practice to a consulting business owner. So he gets it on a very personal level. But, more importantly, because of his background as a mental health therapist, he understands why fear of the unknown is such a big deal and why it's such a big part of the process. So if you want to hear a compassionate and actionable approach to how to handle this fear and how to embrace what he calls these liminal spaces between where we are today and where you want to be. Definitely listen in, and so, without further ado, welcome to the show, chris.
0:01:21 - Chris Hoff
Thank you, Betsy. It's a pleasure to be here and I appreciate the invitation.
0:01:25 - Betsy Jordyn
So you have been in the Purpose to Profits Academy for a while and you and I have been connected in many different ways, and so it was always interesting to me about you in the Academy, which is my group coaching program, where we learn all those cool marketing sales skills and all of that Is your background is that you are a consultant to organizations around conflict resolution and mediation, but you're a mental health therapist as a background, so I'd love to talk to you a little bit more about your journey to how you have the business that you have now. So let's talk about your background.
0:02:00 - Chris Hoff
Sure, yeah, thank you. I do think I do have kind of an interesting background that kind of pulls together some different disciplines. But I started actually in business. I was an entrepreneur in 1996. I started, I had two business partners. We started a technology staffing company that you know. You know worked in technology and aerospace and defense and stuff like that, and we grew that business throughout the years. By the time I exited in 2010, we were at about 200 employees and eight figures in sales, and so we had a successful run. And then I kind of hit this place in my life at that time, where I started, I wanted to do something different, and what I wanted to do I was a psychology undergrad and I kind of always had this hope, you know, when I got that degree, that eventually I might, you know, end up getting a master's degree and, you know, getting licensed as a therapist, that kind of thing.
But you know, I came around 2010, or actually before then, I started to have, I guess, stereotypical midlife crisis and I started to kind of survey my life and thought about you know what did I want to do in the second half of my life, kind of thing, and came to realize that I did want to go back to school.
I did want to become a therapist, so I went to my business partners and I said you know, this has been a wonderful run, but can't do it anymore. And they were shocked at first, but then we all worked it out, and I ended up exiting the business and going back to school, and I ended up getting a master's degree and then a PhD eventually, and then became a working therapist. And what happened, though, is that, actually, the PhD program was an interesting one, because it combined, you know, basically psychology, and they had a minor that you could get in organizational well systems consulting, organizational consulting, and yeah, and so which?
I thought, was great because I could use one of my business experience and kind of meld these kind of the systemic relational practice with organizational consulting. And I thought that was kind of neat and so I did all that. And then, you know, started out as a therapist, had a practice, started a nonprofit, all that kind of stuff. But eventually I got called back because people knew my background. I would get these kinds of one off gigs here and there doing either like facilitations, team building, you know, mediating conversations between people, all these kinds of things. And eventually I decided, well, I should turn this into a business. You know, always the entrepreneur, right, no, it's kind of thinking about that. So, and that led to and my father was a consultant, independent consultant, for a lot of years on his own, and so he was a good example of that. And so I ended up just starting half consulting group. And here I am.
0:05:14 - Betsy Jordyn
Okay so I wish I would have known a little bit more about your background when you were in the academy. Okay so I did not realize you're a long term entrepreneur. I kind of thought you were a therapist turned consultant, but you were in a business. Then you took the therapy and you took the combination of like all right, here's what I know about businesses and running organizations with what I know about psychology not just one on one psychology, but organizational psychology and that is what you combined into your business.
0:05:44 - Chris Hoff
Absolutely yeah, exactly.
0:05:47 - Betsy Jordyn
So that's absolutely brilliant.
So I just want to ask a little bit more about like just that yearning going from like like what it kind of seemed like is like more like just the head head kind of like just operations, like let's just create a business to more of like this heart person and wanting to get this counseling, organizational psychology kind of degree, like what was it about midlife? That kind of like brought more of that to the forefront. Why couldn't it just be like business, business, business or go straight to business to business consulting? But there's this interim kind of time period where you went into more of like how do I understand people? And this other part of the part of your expertise.
0:06:29 - Chris Hoff
Yeah, and I think there's that's a great question. I think because I was, you know, by all outside appearances very successful, living the dream right. I built this business, I was a successful entrepreneur, I had financial security, all these kinds of things. So a lot of people outside of my wife at the time thought I was crazy when I made this decision to do that. But prior to making that decision, I had some you know these experiences that were happening in my life and I think this happens to everybody.
Eventually. It's somewhere on the line that you know there's a models, developmental models that map this process to right when it's like you know it's once we hit this kind of second half of life, you know, kind of having impact or or like there's other things become more important than just like money and stuff like that if we're privileged in that way. Right and so you know so what happened to me?
I, you know, I had all the. I had all the. You know. I think Richard Roars says it great. He says you know, many of us climb the ladder only to get to the top and realize the ladders against the wrong wall.
0:07:48 - Betsy Jordyn
I'm trying to look because I think I have that book sitting on my desk right now. It's the falling upward. I think he talked about Richard Roar, my hero. I love Richard Roar. I have falling upward. I could. I think it's right there on my floor, right there.
0:08:06 - Chris Hoff
And that's that was one of the books that I was reading at the time, right, and it was very impactful, and so if anybody is listening that might be in that space right now. I found that book very, very helpful about it is falling upward of spirituality for the second half of life, and and so I, you know I was having that experience and then it just to be quite honest, I had a friend die by suicide and that really rocked kind of my world at the time and and it had me take stock of my life and and I just determined, I just decided to you know these are the things that I want to do in the time that.
I have left and this is how I want to kind of approach the second half of my life, and and that's the decision, I made and I have not regretted it a minute. Yet I'm very fortunate that way. I love the work that I get to do. I love working with people, I love being invited into people's lives and oftentimes very difficult situations and and and I think it's kind of an honor and a privilege to do that and I love the work that I do.
0:09:10 - Betsy Jordyn
You know. It's again another opportunity. I'm like I wish we would have met and got to know each other better, you know. And now we are getting to know each other better and I wish I would have knew all of this when you first joined the academy, because that's like the heart of everything that I do in my business, you know, and I, I. I think that for me it's like it was the same story, you know. It's like I hit that midlife wake up call and when my dad died for you it was your friend suicide, which, by the way, I'm so sorry about that because suicide just is a different kind of level of grief. And you know, I left Disney and I tell everybody, like, like, a lot of people think like, oh, I just started Disney to start my own business.
I actually spent a couple of years in seminary pursuing a counseling degree for the same same kind of reasons is like, I want to. It's like there's like what's the meaning in Richard Rohrer? One is one of the people I studied a lot. That's how I got interested in Richard Rohrer to begin with, and it was a lot of his stages. He has other kind of models where he talks about like that downward journey and, and you know how, what do you do at that crossroads, like, do I just say, you know, screw it, I just want to be happy? Do you kind of fake it and, you know, just take on that language? Or do you actually do the downward journey, which I think might have to do with what we're talking about in our conversation today? So I think Richard Rohrer is probably our shared interest in.
Richard Rohrer is what got us to the conversation today, because you mentioned something in our community meetings about your book on liminal spaces and I read a lot on Richard Rohrer and the whole idea of liminal spaces. So can you talk a little bit about what our liminal spaces in general from your understanding and the concept, and why is it an interesting type of thing and how does that resonate with your own story? Yeah, thanks.
0:10:58 - Chris Hoff
I am in process of writing a book right now on change and really about liminal space, is because I've come, now that I've been a therapist for a while, I've come to realize that most change, even say all change, happens in that space, right, that space of liminal space.
So the technical term it's the translation of lineman, it's a Latin word which translates into threshold, and there was an anthropologist in the early 1900s, arnold Van Genep, who kind of coined the term, I think, liminal spaces and where he talks about and he borrowed from indigenous rituals or rites of passages, where there's like a separation phase and then there's a kind of an in-between liminal phase and then there's a re-incorporation phase. That happens and that these and that liminal space basically is just kind of understood as a territory between where we were and where we're not quite yet, and it's that space in between and these things happen to us. Liminal spaces. I'm sure everybody maybe people are listening are probably in some version of a liminal space. Oftentimes they're imposed on us through job changes, job loss, divorce, breakups, those kinds of things, or we can, with some agency, enter into them and that's when maybe what I did with a career change.
I decided to leave a business to go into becoming a therapist. It was quite a change, right, and it required me to step into a lot of uncertainty. And so that's what I come to understand as a liminal space, that moving from the threshold or separation from what was in that space and not quite getting there yet, but that space between what might be and what happens in there is where all kind of change happens.
There's a wonderful meme, I'm sure you've seen it. There's a circle and it says comfort zone, and then there's another circle and it says where the magic happens and they're not touching. And that space between these two circles is what I've come to understand as liminal space.
0:13:28 - Betsy Jordyn
I love the way you described it too. Like in seminary we used to call it the already but not yet. And it's like you look behind me or you look at my little tattoo. It's like my whole business is about the butterfly but it's really about the cocoon. Like, the way I see it, is when you're a high achiever and you hit the top of your profession and then you want to do something else, like you're, not quite like you're. That's the caterpillar life. You want to move into the butterfly, but you got to go through the cocoon.
And a lot of people that I, before I work with them, or right at the beginning that I work with them, they don't want to go into the cocoon. I think that the reason why we all, like Richard Ward talks about those choices is a lot of times we just say screw, it is because the cocoon is so difficult, it's so uncomfortable. You have to kind of like digest off everything that you once knew to let this new form create. Why do you think the liminal spaces are just absolutely so awful? Just from your own experience, but also as a mental health therapist Like what is it that you know of? Why do we avoid liminal spaces? Like we'll just avoid it with everything we have.
0:14:40 - Chris Hoff
Yeah, well, I've come to understand it's that we are not socialized to tolerate uncertainty, right, and ambiguity and not knowing, and so and those are all the skills that are required for transversing liminal space, right, you have to build some sort of tolerance for uncertainty or ambiguity or unknowing.
And you know, I've come as a therapist, I've come to understand that what happens to folks often what gets characterized, is like, let's say, relapse in somebody's misusing substances or something like relapse, or oftentimes people get accused of self-sabotage or going back to the bad relationship or stuff like that.
I've come to understand that that is simply oftentimes people just turning back in the midst of liminal space to what is known and familiar, and I mean we accuse them of making these mistakes. But what I've come to understand is that people step into and we all do it we often, and we all do it in our own ways but oftentimes think about the things that are known and familiar to you, that you keep turning back to, right. And there's Michael White who's a narrative therapist. He kind of explained this in a way that I really appreciated that there's the known and familiar and the possible to know, and it's a very hard leap right that you actually have to be scaffolded through that, and that's where I think coaching and consulting can be really, really helpful. But that people can't just make the leap, you know.
0:16:25 - Betsy Jordyn
So, oh, like I just have to sit with that. There's a couple of things that you said are so powerful is I wanna go back to. I wanna talk about the scaffolding in a second. I wanna go back to what you said is like it's actually a turning back, and it's been one of those things as, like a business mentor, I always get confused as, like I have clients that I help with and we spend so much time working on their website and then, once it's done, then it's just like, and then they don't launch it and it's like I'm like why you know and as a you know, and then I see them. It's like you won't even like market it, you'll go and just be a subcontractor.
I'm like, but we did so much effort and never really pictured that that's just a turning back, that I'm just going back to what I know I think about now, like all of these change efforts as an OD consultant that I've led, just like there are all these memories are flashing through my mind of like it's a turning back. You know, like we hit that wall, like what is it about it? Like what's the wall that we hit that makes us decide I don't want to move forward, but I'll turn back. Yeah, what is that wall?
0:17:30 - Chris Hoff
The wall that we hit is the wall of whatever our tolerance level is of uncertainty right.
We all have what I'd call a window of tolerance right and once we get taken out of that window of tolerance, then that's when we want to slam back to what is known and familiar. And so our task, both individually and as maybe coaches or consultants, is how do we expand people's window of tolerance for uncertainty, ambiguity, unknowing, uncomfortability and, judging by the work that you do, the risk of failure? How do we help people embrace failure as something that can be very, very innovative, right and can create rather than fear it or not even risk it? How do we help people embrace it as a place of possibility? And I think that's kind of our work.
So when you're seeing this now in organizational, you're seeing frameworks, like you're probably familiar with VUCA and BANI, these ideas of VUCA's volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, and BANI, or BANI is highlights. First, it highlights brilliance of systems and, second, anxiety that people experience and change efforts, and it acknowledges the ends and the nonlinear nature of events and then highlights the incomprehensibility that we should always be training and learning about. How to do the incomprehensibility. And so you're seeing now organizational psychology beginning to understand these of the liminal space right, the effects. If real change is going to happen, we need frameworks and understanding, and these are a couple of their attempts of doing that.
0:19:31 - Betsy Jordyn
Yeah, I think that there's something about that tolerance for ambiguity. But I think when you're really talking about change, there's a difference, I think, between just evolutionary change, like where I'm just going to do a little bit more of who I am, like that's an evolutionary thing, where it's like, all right, I have to learn how to manage ambiguity, complexity in my external environment. There's that kind of change. But when you're talking about deep change, where I personally have to transform, so on a simple level, when I look at organizations, a lot of times they're going to get stuck. If you're going to go from this lifecycle to this one, it requires a total transformation. Let's say, the executive in charge always saw themselves as like I'm a salesperson, I'm an entrepreneur. Now I have to be an executive. That's a total transformation from the inside out and that's a different type of liminal space, because I have to let go.
Why I get fascinated by the butterfly is the whole idea is that the caterpillar goes into the cocoon and the adult templates of the butterfly are all encoded within that caterpillar, but in the cocoon they literally have to digest themselves of everything that is not the adult templates, so there's a deep loss. So if I'm an executive. I have to let go of my identity as a salesperson when I deal with my clients, sometimes, like I have to let go of my identity as a corporate leader in order to take on the identity of an entrepreneur. You had to let go of your identity as a business owner. Then you had to let go of your identity as a therapist to embrace a new identity as a consulting business owner type of person Like how do you manage that death? Like how do you help people let go of that death?
0:21:24 - Chris Hoff
And you raise a really great point, because this interest all started when I left my company and became a therapist. Because there was a year I started grad school and there was a year where I hadn't seen a client yet. So I wasn't really a therapist and I was no longer an entrepreneur. So I was in this identity liminal space and it was really destabilizing for me. I didn't know who I was and I hadn't seen a client yet and I just changed my whole life and I didn't even know if this is really what I was going to be doing. And I remember fortunately for me, when I saw my first client was a year later in the program, when I saw my first client 15 minutes into seeing my first client, I was like, oh, this is exactly what I want to be doing. So that worked out for me.
But there was that year period where I was just really I didn't know who I was anymore and it was really destabilizing and uncomfortable and that kind of thing. The thing that helped me is that I had people in my life that were walking alongside me in it, and so that's what I think is really, really important for us and that's why I think coaching like any organizations. If you're really going to have change, I think you need that. You need people that will walk alongside not in front of you, but walk alongside you in this process.
And that's what because I still train therapists and one of the things they hear me say although all the time is that I don't care what the problem is, it grows in isolation, and so we have to be in any kind of change efforts, especially when, like you said, when somebody is making this identity change that they're making, we have to help them, not do it in isolation, because it'll be harder and harder to do that.
0:23:27 - Betsy Jordyn
Well, and it's also not just people, but the right people, like. I'll give you a specific example and I would love to see if you were my coach back at the time period. So I had left Disney, I was an OD consultant. Consulting was natural for me when I started my consulting business, like, yeah, I had to learn marketing sales, but the essential role in my identity as a consultant stayed intact. You know, like I had, and all of my professional image of, like you know, I can stand up in front of a group of executives, blah, blah, blah. But I had this yearning on this to help people more one on one and move into this branding space that I'm in now, like helping people, like activate their skills and their strengths and all of that, and it was such a huge thing.
But I had advisors at that time who kept saying, especially my accountant is you cannot close down your consulting business, even though I knew in my heart I was no longer, that was no longer. That was like an old me from many years ago, you know, and until you make this other business successful. And they kept pushing me like you got to carry them both. And as I kept carrying them both and I was double minded, one foot in this world and trying to stretch into this new world, I kept. I was told over and over again, you cannot close this down. And I just had to come to a point because I was failing in both of them.
I was never going to make this other one successful until I shut down that old thing and I had a say goodbye to everything that I knew and I had no one really around me supporting me, because the people that were around me it's like well, if you can go work out with executives, why would you do that?
If you can land six figure gigs so easily, why would you do that? So I had the advice, I had people, but all of them were had a lot of vested interest in my old identity. So if you were my coach, if you were my therapist, if you were the person at that point in time, what did? Because I know there's a lot of people who are listening, who are either saying I want to leave my corporate job and I want to start my own business, or I have a business that I like but I don't love anymore and my heart is yearning in another direction. Counsel, I'm going to be your virtual I'm going to be everybody's virtual client at this point in time and counsel us. What would you say to us?
0:25:40 - Chris Hoff
Yeah, so I get asked this a lot, right, and so because people know my background and these changes that I made in my life, and so people come to me a lot and I even wrote this in the book. It's like when they do come to me, I tell them I have one move, that's it. I have one piece of advice. And if it was you, Betsy, and you came to me and you were contemplating, doing this, my one move is that you just do it. I push you off the cliff. That's what I'm going to do.
So if you want to come to, me about like I'm going to make this change. Should I, or whatever I am all in, I'm going to push you off the cliff to go all in right.
And the reason is is because you know I would you know, what I hear you saying is that people, people are kind of projecting their own anxieties onto you, right and like why would you and I heard a lot of that too and why would you leave this like thing that has given you financial security and all this stuff to go be a therapist, like why you know, and so you know, and I did, I just I left and I took the risk and I haven't regarded minimum. I'm glad I did it, but also I think that this is just me. I think, you know, mine was born out of, like you said, grief, a certain kind of grief, right, and that I came to the realization and this is bringing Richard Rohr back into the picture, maybe too that I came to the realization that we don't know how much time we have here.
I mean, we don't you know, and so I'm always really aware of that. I'm always really aware of that. That's always kind of here, this idea that this is impermanent. So you know, if you wanna do something, do it. You know, take the leap, you know. That's my one move and so and it's worked for me and I know there's all kinds of other considerations, you know, in context and all that kind of stuff.
I mean I get it. You know there's other stuff to consider and at the end of the day, that's my one move Go for it, Go all in, do it.
0:27:58 - Betsy Jordyn
So I think some people are like, yes, okay, I wish I would have had around you, had you as a better external person, give me that advice. But then they're gonna be like, well, what about my internal world? Because the voices on the outside only matter because they resonate with what you're saying to yourself on the inside. So let me throw you some of the resistance phrases that people might say. But, chris, I've always been successful and independent. I don't know if I should go into this other one where I'm not gonna be successful. Why, you know you're asking me to give up my success. Why? Why I'm not going to be successful in this new world like I was in this old world?
0:28:39 - Chris Hoff
Yeah, but I mean, how do you know that? Right? That is again going back to the known and familiar you know, there, you wouldn't even be thinking about if everything was grouped right.
You wouldn't even be thinking about something else, right? But the thing is is if I asked you enough questions say you were coaching me and we had some time I would be asking you enough questions about what really, it's kind of created this, this kind of urgency, or this, this thing inside of you that you want to do something different, and I bet we would get at all the reasons why this is no longer fulfilling. This is doing it for you, this kind of thing. But and then we can, we can examine how, even though it's totally not what you want to be doing, you know how to do it, but you don't know how to do that right, and so then we can begin to have a conversation about.
And this is where I, like you know, like scenario planning or like kind of trying to help people have some sort of prediction of what might they might expect when they go to do this. That's how I begin to scaffold people right, so to, because once you start talking about the future, it has an effect on your present, and that's that's how I would start doing that, like you know, acknowledging that, even though this thing is totally unsatisfactory. You know how to do it, you know what it looks like, tastes like, feels like, and that's why it will always have a poll for you. But let's talk about the future that you want, the preferences that you want in your life, the hopes you have for your life, and then let's talk about that. And then let's talk about how scary it is and let's talk about what experiences you might have as you begin to go into liminal space and that is how I would hope to scaffold somebody to what might be possible yeah.
0:30:31 - Betsy Jordyn
So there's like that I think this is where Richard Rohr talks about is like there's a form, not formula, as you go into these liminal spaces and it's like pay attention to the, the milestones of what it might be. And I think that's what you're saying in the scaffolding is, you know, like future, you's going to worry about everything that you're going to do, but there is a path that you can follow. You know, like as you're, like I know for sure, as you're converting a career into your calling, there is, there are steps that you can go through so that you can at least see those mile milestones. But the truth is that there is still going to always be a faith type of element, because you don't know exactly what it's going to look like for you.
When I stepped into this particular world, I didn't expect that I really love like branding is my thing. You know like put and helping people figure out words and the writer side of me really giving room for the writer, the messaging person. I would have never guessed that. When I first stepped on that journey I thought, well, everybody wants my OD consulting practices.
I mean, that's how you and I first got connected yeah, exactly and you know, you've seen, all of you know, you've seen, you know everybody makes jokes about like you know what's Betsy's branding for today, like, but it's like, if it is still like, I'm just stepping into it, kind of like on the scaffolding, but you still have to address the fear of the unknown. So I want to ask you a question on something that I've been really contemplating a lot lately, just into some of the stuff that I'm reading is there's two principles when it relates to change. That I just think is a cosmic joke is the one side is that the only constant is change. Like change in our our world is, is it is what it is. You could look at the seasons are constantly changing.
Birth, death, rebirth is a cycle. But our brain, in the way that we're wired, is we are wired to hate change. Everything about our our brain is wired to avoid change at all costs. Right, why do these things exist? This makes no sense. This feels like a cosmic joke. Like this does. This is the biggest cosmic joke of all the cosmic jokes for us who are change and transformation professionals yeah, well, I think it's has something to do.
0:32:47 - Chris Hoff
If we truly knew how impermanent and everything, how a thing is, everything is in motion we might just, you know, get lose our minds. It's too much. So, you know, I some evolutionary science might be involved about how we've kind of learned over time to stabilize our view of the world in some way, shape or form. But the reality is is that it's it's not stable, it's always in motion, it's always changing and and I think people are becoming clear of that, and I think you know, I think you know.
I just think that's why I think you're you're having people like Richard Rohr talk about limo space and and people are starting to talk it, you know, kind of talk about these ideas, about you know and about how, how you know.
I mean a lot of our, a lot of our world is like how do we, how do we keep it the way it used to be, right? You see a lot of that in the world. And then you have other people in the world. They're like no, no, we need change. And it's like but even the people that want change, you know, they want some control in that change and so it's just creating a lot of friction. But the reality is is that we, we, our world, is changing. We need it to change, we need to build new ways of being together with each other and the. The skills of the future, I would argue, are going to be how do we do change? How, how do we do uncertain, the ambiguity and unknowing, and how do we be effective in that? And and I think you know we're becoming clearer that, you know the world is pretty chaotic and that's the way that it is, and you know those of us that kind of embrace that I think are going to be better off.
0:34:47 - Betsy Jordyn
I wonder if the solution I don't know to get political on this show, because this is not a political show.
I try not to do that but I, but I do think that there's something in there about your, your laddering principle, like, if you kind of look at both sides of the aisle, you have one side is so afraid of change that they're saying we should not have any change, let's go backwards in time.
And we have another side that's like so, you know, like just so ready from progressive and it's like they're just going to like rush off into the, you know, into the unknown and try to create change or create a specific vision of change. And I wonder if the answer somewhere in there is yes, we have to move, we have to change and evolve, because that's the nature of the world. But you know, maybe we just need to do it. Maybe it's like being too progressive or being too regressive, that's the problem and we have to step into change in a way that doesn't freak out all of our survival brains yeah, you know that we can't freak ourselves out but also moves that progress forward, because there's a reason why there's. I like what you said is like there's a reason for your discontent and that you should pay attention to that discontent. There's a reason why people are discontent with the status quo, right?
yeah and I agree, and.
0:36:01 - Chris Hoff
I think it is a scaffolding thing and I oftentimes, when I, you know, when doing therapy and working with a family, usually there's some member of the family that has changed, has changed in some way, either identity or you know all the different ways to change happens. But they've done that change, they've been thinking about that change, they've done it over a time and you know, oftentimes they're ready for the family to catch up with them. Right, and so we have to. There's this understanding that you have to realize that you for your father along and you have to give people some grace about trying to catch up. I think, and I think that comes down to scaffolding how do we because I'm all about change, let's make the change happen. But how do we?
how do we bring everybody along with us in that, and sometimes that requires us to slow down a little bit, or to enter into our own uncomfortability about not going at a pace that we would prefer, or that kind of thing. How do we do that so?
0:37:03 - Betsy Jordyn
like and not not do change like big change too fast, like, for example, like I on, I would compare evolutionary change from transformational change to my moves. So I had been in Florida for years and years and years and moving across town from one part of Orlando to another part of Orlando, it's like, yeah, it was stressful, you know and I, there was a lot of things that were had to go on. But when I tried to take that approach of moving across town to my approach to moving across country, you know, at the same time of becoming a, you know, an empty nesting parent, you know where my kids are out of the house, like it was so much change and I went too fast, like it almost, like it burnt me out, like this. This move to Denver was like it was the one of the worst changes because I didn't manage it properly. I did not acknowledge.
I tried to use evolutionary change principles on a transformational change because it's dramatically different. My lifestyle was different and where I was living was different and if I needed to go slower, I needed to stage it in a different way, I needed to manage my expectations in a different way, and I think that that's some of the stuff where we're talking about a liminal space. That's really different type of change. That if there's a change that has a liminal space, that's very different and we have to approach it in that particular way. And as consultants and coaches when we're helping somebody, we have to understand the difference.
That's why with my clients I would always say it does not work to just go out there and get clients. You cannot just leave corporate and just go out there and get clients, because that would be if you are doing an evolutionary career change. But when you're completely transforming, you got to go slow, to go fast because you're going to freak out your system at some point and then you're going to go and do that and then you're going to have a freak out. Does that analogy work?
0:39:02 - Chris Hoff
Yes and that's something I learned late in life is that I love the idea now of going slow to go fast, whereas before I was let's just go fast all over the place. I think I burned a lot of energy foolishly that way and made a lot of mistakes that I didn't really need to in that way, I got distracted in ways that I was trying to do everything all the time all different, and once I really bought into the idea of to go slow and go fast, that it really works. It just took me a long time to learn that, unfortunately.
0:39:36 - Betsy Jordyn
Because the go slow to go fast is like what you're saying is the laddering approach, because then I have a chance to breathe.
0:39:45 - Chris Hoff
Yes, and you're less prone to want to turn back to the known and familiar, because you jumped out of your window of thought what happened.
0:39:55 - Betsy Jordyn
So it's like, if you're really approaching transformation, when you're in the midst of a transformational change, a significant one, especially at mid-life.
If I'm going to summarize this part of our interview, it seems like first number one is you need to acknowledge the significance of that particular change, recognize that usually when you get to that kind of change, something pushes you, like, even though you said you made the volitional choice, but there was a wake-up call that happened in the form of some sort of crisis that got you to that part.
The other principle that we can really lean into is the whole idea that there is a liminal space and the unknown is a part of the process, but in the unknown there are milestones, there's form, not formula, that you could follow, but also that if you go slow to go fast, you're going to give your brain and give all the parts of yourself a chance to engage in this one and then you can manage it. And then you can go to this one and you can manage it, like now I know this is why I do a lot of the things. I didn't know why I did. I knew I did action learning, but it's like I always recommend going slow to go fast with my clients and I think it's exactly what you're saying it's like, because you need to give yourself a breather to internalize where you're at. That's really powerful.
0:41:17 - Chris Hoff
0:41:19 - Betsy Jordyn
So let's turn our conversation to really the power of liminal spaces and why that's so significant for consultants and coaches. In doing interviews with a lot of executives, they will tell you that the reason why they hire consultants and coaches is when they're in those liminal spaces, when they are scaling up to the next phase of growth or something has changed within the organization. So can you talk about the liminal spaces as an opportunity for consultants and coaches and why us not having a formal place on the org chart actually is better and more powerful than if we actually did have a formal place on the org chart?
0:41:59 - Chris Hoff
Yeah Well, I just think now that all change is entry into liminal space and all the different forms. It can take many different forms and for individuals and organizations, and then leaders and then in organizations. If you don't have that kind of understanding or support in that process, the change is going to get. And I know, Betsy, you've probably seen a lot of failed change efforts in your career, right.
0:42:39 - Betsy Jordyn
Just see, it would be better to ask me to count how many successful change efforts I've seen in organizations Right.
0:42:47 - Chris Hoff
Well like I said, when I train therapists, for example, oftentimes I'll ask them how many of you are here, because you're that one person that everybody comes to for advice. And Betsy, I bet you're one of those people too, because that's who you are and everybody inevitably most people raise their hands and I say how many times has somebody came to you for advice and you said just do this. And how many times do people actually just do that?
0:43:15 - Betsy Jordyn
Right, and everybody's like no, they don't ever do it Right.
0:43:19 - Chris Hoff
And because people, when they give advice which sometimes not great coaching and consulting is is advice skipping, they don't realize what they're doing and, like I'm going to go back to the known and familiar and the possible to know, and that you can't just make that leap.
And so somebody will come in and say, well, you just all need to do this. Well, that's, that's not accounting for the liminal space and the ambiguity and the uncertainty and the unknowing and the fear of failure and all that stuff that needs to be scaffolded through. And so that's where, when I think you get the right coach and consultant or whatever that can, can scaffold you through, or your organization or your team or whatever it be, through that part of thing, then maybe you have a chance at actually changing. But if you don't, if you just come in and say you just need, all need to do that, great, we're going to leave. Now you do that, and then everybody wonders why that never gets done because nobody's accounted for that space in between. But we now are calling liminal space, and that's why I think change efforts don't work, and I and I think that's if you want them to work, then that's why I think coaches and consultants can help if you want that kind of scaffolding in that process have you ever heard the book um general theory of love?
0:44:35 - Betsy Jordyn
have not no, it's a really good book on the limbic brain and it talks about like real change happens in the context of relationship, like there's like limbic resonance and revision and all that kind of stuff that happens. And I think that there's more than like, I think, what you're saying as a consultant or coach don't go in there with your prescriptions and your advice, because it's not going to work and it's never going to happen. Take a scaffolding approach, you know, to it. But it's not just about the approach. I think it's also about you know, being the person who's going to sort of model for the client or or hold out for the client.
Like that vision I think a lot of times, like in the mentoring I do, is I hold up for my clients the vision of what's possible for them before, so that you know, until they could believe it for themselves. Like that's my role as a mentor and I think that's the same thing is yeah, you can do this. Let me paint a picture for you, you know, and let me be there with you as you're having your meltdowns along the way. And if you are having your meltdowns, like don't worry about it because that's just your survival brain, like it's not you, it's just a part of you. You are not the person who's having a meltdown, it's just a party you and you can manage that.
0:45:46 - Chris Hoff
That's correct, yeah.
0:45:48 - Betsy Jordyn
You are a mediator. You do a lot of conflict resolution and mediation Is the reason why? Because I could tell that you're somebody who's very interested when organizations and or leaders are going through a significant transformation. That involves the liminal space. But tell me a little bit about the conflict resolution. Is there a reason why the conflict that does I mean I don't know if maybe that's like this the change is a part of your business and then the conflict resolution is another part or is it because there's changing that's happening, that conflict seems to be a problem that happens?
0:46:26 - Chris Hoff
Yeah, absolutely, and I just came to you know when I was in my PhD program, I did some research around conflict and I saw different stats that had you know managers, either 40 to 60 percent of their job was dealing with conflict and they hate dealing with conflict and would prefer to ignore it. Right, and so that conflict is often part and parcel of many organizations, teams, etc. And isn't one of those things that does slow down or stop completely change efforts too. So, and also I just I like people, I like that.
I want to resolve conflict and I started as a therapist and couples and families and now in teams and organizations and stuff like that I want to. That's where I would like to have impact in a way in the world. And if we can reduce conflict, even in the small areas of the context that I work in, you know, I think that could have wider ripples in the world. That's the way I want to look at it, so that's why it became interesting to me.
0:47:33 - Betsy Jordyn
So one part of your consulting practice is helping organizations and the leaders manage the liminal spaces within change, and then another one is around the conflict resolution. Sometimes they overlap, but sometimes it's just like can't we all just get along? Yeah right, so you're the guy who creates the kumbaya in the organization when they're done. Working with you, everybody's like you know, got their arms locked and you know.
0:48:00 - Chris Hoff
And if you've talked anybody around me, I'm probably the least kumbaya person, but I have an inner kumbaya person, I guess.
0:48:10 - Betsy Jordyn
So do you usually work with big teams and get the big teams to work together or within an intact team, or is it both?
0:48:20 - Chris Hoff
Typically smaller teams, usually more intimate work, you know, and individuals.
0:48:26 - Betsy Jordyn
So it's like um, so you just take that. So some of it is is you're taking a lot of the therapeutic practice into the workplace.
0:48:36 - Chris Hoff
Yes, absolutely yeah I call it, uh, my relational health, workplace relational health, and, you know, because a lot of folks don't want to, the therapy word still has some stigma around it, right? So? But the reality is is that it is about relationality, relational practices and how can we be more relational together?
0:48:59 - Betsy Jordyn
So with the? So do you, um, do you just mediate the conflicts or do you provide like training, like how? Tell me about?
0:49:06 - Chris Hoff
how your world Training, conflict coaching, facilitation, mediation, etc.
0:49:14 - Betsy Jordyn
Yeah so let's say there's a leader who has two direct reports and they're not getting along. Do you go in and help those two direct reports get along or do you coach? The leader on how to got it.
0:49:27 - Chris Hoff
Yeah, yeah, so with the leader it'd be more like a conflict coaching situation. With the two people together would be more like a mediation conflict resolution situation.
0:49:38 - Betsy Jordyn
So what if there's a leader who wants to bring in a consultant because he doesn't want to deal with the or she doesn't want to deal with the difficult feedback for a direct report and they want you to come in and help, but it's really because they don't want to have the difficult conversations like how do you handle those situations?
0:49:54 - Chris Hoff
Well, I'd conflict. I would suggest a conflict coaching arrangement not me doing it for them, but helping coach them through that process, rather than just doing it for them.
0:50:06 - Betsy Jordyn
Yeah, I'm sure that the consultants and coaches are listening. Who've been around for a while will know, will remember all of those different times where they're being called in and it's like, hey, wait a minute, I'm here to do this guy's dirty work.
0:50:19 - Chris Hoff
Exactly not interested. No. Yeah, I'll help you, but I'll help you.
0:50:25 - Betsy Jordyn
Yeah, because it's like, ultimately, the sustainability is that leader has to. You know, learn how to have the difficult conversations when you help your clients in the workplace. So what are the ripple effects that you see after working with clients on their relational health issues in the workplace to their personal lives?
0:50:47 - Chris Hoff
That's a great question. I think you know, once people kind of learn conflict resolution skills or like how some different kind of communication skills etc. They bleed into all kind of context of their lives, so that you know that they'll take them into that, take those skills into other relationships that they have absolutely.
0:51:16 - Betsy Jordyn
I think there's some power.
The reason why I'm asking that is like, sometimes, like I think, when we like work on some of our transformational skills, like the things that we really need to deal with, if we manage it in the workplace, it's a lot easier than managing it in our personal life, you know.
So it seems like if you're getting in there and it's like because it's less risk in some ways than if it is like, you know, just with the people that you love. So I'm wondering, you know that's some of the, the benefits that you know, when you bring in the therapeutic kind of concepts maybe not direct but indirect, you know you're really helping in so many other areas. Then, you know, and fulfilling the full mission of what you wanted to do to begin with, as you had a business, then you wanted to help people and now you're bringing it together but you're still helping people. I just I wonder if that's like a, I wonder if that's an explicit part of you know, like bringing full picture. You know, full, full, going full circle to fulfill your the all the visions that you had since midlife.
0:52:14 - Chris Hoff
Yeah and how I wanted to have impact in the world and I would like to think you know, you know what I have learned about first order change and second order change, which is the harder change right, and and how, once that happens, it does have effects in it because you know we're all interconnected, right? I do believe that we're all parts of systems and larger systems, and so once any kind of change happens in the system, it has a, like you said, ripple effects through the whole system. So I would like to think you know that the work is impactful.
0:52:49 - Betsy Jordyn
It feels like it. I mean, I know for you being a part of our community, you've just you always bring such a unique perspective. I can only imagine what it's like when you work with your clients and how you bring that type of relational health. Can you be more explicit about your, your web address, like how people can find you and I know you're working on a book, and can you give us a little sneak peek and what you're working on?
0:53:11 - Chris Hoff
Yeah, so I'm working on a book and it's title working title right now it's radical change and it is all about liminal space and uncertainty and holding space, one of the chapters about holding space how we can hold space for ourselves and others that are going through some of these changes and so I hope to have that completed sometime next year. And I could be found at hofconsultinggroupcom and drchrishhoffcom and yeah, those are the spots to track me down.
0:53:53 - Betsy Jordyn
That's amazing, thank you. We've talked a lot about change in general. We talked about conflict resolution. Is there anything else that you would want to tell me about radical change, about the liminal space is about the power of liminal spaces that consultants and coaches can really take advantage of to make a bigger difference and actually have a, you know, a clear market niche. Anything about, like you know, taking big risks to walk into the liminal space, and I'm just not asking the right questions.
0:54:23 - Chris Hoff
Yeah, you know, I, yeah, I think there's a ton of opportunity and you know I think there's a ton of you know consultants and I think sometimes get a bad rap because they come in, do change efforts and the change just never happens. And I think we have to begin to really understand why change isn't happening. And I think it is because of these journeys into liminal space and and how they are destabilizing, how they are. There's a ton of uncertainty, ambiguity, unknowing, fear and fear of failure and if we're going to coach people through those we have, I think we all have to have an understanding of it.
We have to have an understanding, in our own lives too, about how we're confronting that kind of change, or how we haven't confronted that kind of change, how we've consistently, maybe, turned back to the known and familiar and and what we need to do to expand our own window of tolerance for uncertainty. Otherwise you're going to be kind of the people around you, Betsy, that were telling you don't do that, when in reality you need somebody telling you, maybe whispering in your ear go for it, Betsy, go for it.
0:55:48 - Betsy Jordyn
Wow, okay, well, on that note, that's a perfect time to end the interview is just, you know, if you have a change, go for it. And you know again, the scaffolding approach can help you not get to the point where you want to turn back later on. Thank you so much for being on the show. It's been really amazing to have you here. I just learned so much. So thank you so much.
0:56:10 - Chris Hoff
Thank you, Betsy. I appreciate it great talking to you.
0:56:13 - Betsy Jordyn
So if you're a leader in an organization undergoing radical change or want to improve the relational health of your teams, I highly recommend Chris. But if you're a consultant or coach who wants a mentor and guide, like me, who can help you navigate the unknown between, let's say, employment and entrepreneurship, or between your success and significance, let's talk. Check out my website at www.BetsyJordyn.com and remember Jordyn is with a Y. I got all kinds of freebies there and you'll also appreciate my free success roadmap, which will help you overcome a little bit of that fear of the unknown, because it will show you the milestones.
And, of course, if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to hit subscribe to this podcast. And until next time. Thanks for listening. Thank you for tuning in. If today's episode lit a fire on you, please rate and review enough already on Apple podcasts or subscribe wherever you listen. And if you're looking for your next step, visit me on my website at www.BetsyJordyn.com and it's Betsy, Jordyn with a Y and you'll learn all about our end-to-end services that are custom designed to accelerate your success. Don't wait, start today.