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Boundary or Beacon?

Right after early men and women figured out how to start a fire on purpose, they realized a new boundary. Light a candle or light a pile of tinder, and we perceive a boundary, an edge.

Inside the edge, we can see. Beyond, we can’t. It’s dark.

Beside the fire, it’s warm. At some distance, it no longer is.

Close to the light of the fire, we are safe. Beyond the edge of light lies danger.

But what about the person looking from somewhere out there? They see no boundary. They see a beacon. The light calls, “Welcome home.” It beckons, “Come in out of the cold.”

What we have here isn’t actually a boundary, it’s a problem of perception and measurement. The edge of light isn’t an edge at all.

Most boundaries are like that. We make them up for ourselves and for others. They’re a story we tell ourselves to manage our anxiety and assure ourselves of our status.

What if we flipped the script and made more beacons instead? We should consider not how to keep what we don’t want away, but how to welcome whatever is out there to come and visit awhile.

. . . . .

Just to amplify this for a minute.

  • Our professional credentials and accumulated knowledge can be a boundary or a beacon.
  • When we use lots of jargon, especially with clients, that is a boundary.
  • When we ask “just the right question,” that’s a beacon.
  • When we start the conversation with any version of “I” or “me,” it’s a boundary.
  • When we start the conversation with something that signals the buyer, “I see you,” “I hear you,” or “I know you,” that’s a beacon.

Like that.