he human body has evolved to adapt in the face of adversity. Often, when humans are met with a challenge that exceeds their current capabilities, adapting to overcome the obstacle is how we hone a skill. This is the case, for example, with exercise and fitness.
As Liminal Collective co-founder Andy Walshe puts it, “If you're not running or exercising, and you start to jog around the block, you'll get fitter. But after a few weeks of that, that stimulus is no longer challenging to the system.” Upping the ante and creating more adversity for yourself is how you continue to grow in this case.
“So this idea that the body adapts when it's challenged, we've learned over the years applies to every system,” says Walsh. “Physically, psychologically, mentally, and even spiritually.”
Growth in the face of adversity is a core principle of the Liminal Collective, and there are a myriad of ways that humans can apply this idea to their own lives while learning and growing in the process.
The Liminal Space
Liminal collective’s name derives, in part, from rites of passage or transitional rituals in ancient cultures, in which children coming to the age of adulthood would prove themselves as worthy members of society by facing a tremendous challenge of some sort.
“These passages for youth established in them an understanding of themselves,” says Walshe. “But also showed them how they could contribute to society.”
Entering these liminal spaces can still yield rich results and help us hone our performance as humans today. Controlled pressure testing is a part of training regimens prescribed for military training and elite athletics, but there are also ways to experience these liminal states in uncontrolled environments, especially in the natural world.
“Whether it's in the ocean or cold mountainous areas—you can't control your environment, and you're learning how to adapt, how to really be humble and respectful of the environment,” says Liminal Collective founding member Jurgen Heitmann. “You're building that discipline, learning about decision making and risk mitigation.”
COVID as Case Study
It’s not often that a challenge comes along that forces the entire human species to adapt at the same time, but the COVID-19 pandemic has reached every corner of the globe, and there are a myriad of lessons we can learn from the ways humans have succeeded and failed to adapt.
Ben Potvin of the Liminal Collective explains that analyzing failures is a key ingredient to overcoming them in the future. “One thing that you do when you get to a certain elite level is look ate your losses more than your wins,” explains Potvin. “Being like: Why, how? And how can I learn from this in order for that not to happen again?”
Seeing how humans have struggled to adapt to the circumstances of the pandemic on levels ranging from individual to societal can help us grow stronger as a species and face future crises with more resilience.
On the other hand, there is plenty to learn from people successfully adapting to new situations as well. Potvin goes on to explain that in the entertainment industry, the creators who looked at COVID as an opportunity to reimagine their craft in order to suit the times were the ones who continued to thrive. As Heitmann points out, these kinds of adverse climates can also be moments where communities come back together and grow a stronger sense of responsibility to one another and togetherness. This idea can also be applied to failures as teams, companies, and individuals.
In order to grow and become a better you, better at what you do, learning from your mistakes is key. Taking the time to analyze what’s gone awry and how you can make adjustments in the future will help guide you toward and improved version of yourself. In addition, opening yourself up to adversity, challenges, and pressure testing will help you unlock a higher level of performance.
Re-centering yourself in gratitude, present-moment awareness, and community can also contribute greatly in your quest to overcome adversity and learn from past failings. Leaning into gratitude and mindfulness can help improve challenging circumstances as you face them, and sharing the experience can also help you lift others up and learn from their trials and travails as well. Because although personal growth and achievement is always worth celebrating, the core of humanity comes from shared experiences, shared successes.