The in-between places
#LedaWrites was not my idea.
The weekly “raw and unabridged” column is Tanya’s idea. And the hashtag was courtesy of #mytribe in their wisdom, poetry and kindness.
It has all been the most incredible experience and I am forever thankful. It gave me a space between doing the work, talking about it to people who were very close to specifics and ranting about it to people who were close to me but had no idea what I was talking about.
It gave me an expansive place where I could reflect, peel back and grow. It gave me an in-between place that I will forever cherish and while you wonderful people carry on reading, I will carry on filling it with thoughts, questions and hope. Always hope.
I won’t lie. The first couple of years of writing the pieces came from a place of great frustration inhabited almost exclusively by people beating against the closed door of corporate intransigence. Where transformation is a programme of work, not a mindset of If This Then That. As my job changed, the emotional impetus for writing also changed but the triggers remain emotional and the purpose of writing remains to curate the in-between place.
It’s its own place. Writing is how I get in. I don’t know any other way although I am sure there are many roads in. This is mine.
Over the years, people have asked me “was that meant for so and so?” and in one memorable occasion I was summoned to Mahogany Row, the floor of C Suite offices, and asked by my then COO “was today’s #LedaWrites about us?”.
The simple answer to the question is always no.
If you think it’s about you but we haven’t spoken about it then it is not. If you think it is about someone we both know and yet that person is not referenced, then it is probably not.
I am neither stupid nor unkind. Nobody features in my writing unless they ask for it or give me permission.
No organisation becomes a target for the sheer childish pleasure of taunts.
But if you read something and think it may be about you then maybe it is and I had nothing to do with it. It was not about you but if it feels like it was then maybe it is for you and you are now in our in-between place of reflection and self-questioning. It’s not always comfortable but it is always worth it.
Pull up a chair.
“Write about walking the line,” says Carrie
It started with a throw-away comment: Rene calling a group of us beautiful and dangerous.
Beauty being in the eye of the beholder and danger in the heart of the adventurer, we took the compliment exactly as it was intended. Expansively.
But Carrie’s challenge gave me pause.
We all live lives of contradictions and halves that won’t meet in a seamless hole. Be it our personal and professional choices, the kind of work we strive to do and the places in which we try to do it. Be it what the world expects of us and the way we choose to defy, challenge, undercut or ignore those expectations.
How do you walk that line, Carrie?
With courage, fear and hope.
It is the ultimate in-between place, that line. The place where we find a song for every time we lost. And every time we won.
A woman from a traditional background choosing a career ahead of her family’s expectations of familiar domesticity (and yes, it still happens boys).
A dreamer choosing to build solutions for capitalist cynics because money is not the stuff of dreams but it is the hill on which most dreams die and that’s not right.
A person who tries to stay kind while being ambitious.
An entrepreneur choosing to try again after funding ran out and their first venture ended in tears.
There are moments when you know you are walking that line: meetings where you know you are at the boundary of acceptability and authenticity. Or that liminal doorstep of impending understanding.
But I don’t think that was the question.
I think – and I could have checked, but what is the fun in that – I think the question was how do we walk that line day after day, in ways that are small and meaningful and constant and in ways that are systematic, systemic, huge.
How do we walk that line between what is easy and what is right, what is expected and what is true, what is beautiful and what is dangerous?
I have no manual.
But what I see by looking around me and seeing friends and colleagues walking that line every moment of their lives, is that there are a few things they have in common.
First and foremost.
It’s not an outward thing. They walk that line as far as the world is concerned. But they walk it for themselves too. They put themselves on the edge of fear, where hope lives.
They choose in-between places to think, work and grow in. They live with the fear of failing, of not being enough, of running out of time before they see and do everything.
They live in the knowledge that the space between beauty and danger is where we create “the sound that has the power to raise a temple and tear it down”.
They know that hope and the in-between spaces are where people like us think and do and grow. Because we are not really made in the right shape for the cookie cutter world but we are not out and out rebels either. So we find our space. And each other.
And we walk that line.
With hope, fear and urgency. Each in our own way but with the inevitability of not having a real alternative because of who we are.
So if you have read this piece and thought ‘what faff’ then I guess this is a health warning for you: now you know what to expect from the likes of us.
But if you read it and wondered “is this about me?” the answer is no. Unless you are Rene or Carrie. But then you asked for it and it is no surprise.
But if you are asking is this about me, even though you didn’t ask for it, then I’d say it is for you.
Welcome to the in between places. They are beautiful. Dangerous. And full of amazing wondrous creatures who walk tightropes and thin red lines because they know no other way to be.
By Leda Glyptis
Leda Glyptis is FinTech Futures’ resident thought provocateur – she leads, writes on, lives and breathes transformation and digital disruption as CEO of 11:FS Foundry.
She is a recovering banker, lapsed academic and long-term resident of the banking ecosystem.
All opinions are her own. You can’t have them – but you are welcome to debate and comment!