Edge – a line or border at which something stops and something else begins; a jumping-off point; a place of discomfort, challenge, and invitation
These days it seems that many people I talk with, including myself, are “living on the edge.” I don’t mean that they are on the edge of falling apart, or of losing everything they have, or are on the verge of insanity. I’m talking about people who, because of their choices and commitments to making a difference or accomplishing something big, often find themselves living on the edge of their comfort zone.
Doing transformational work often takes us to our edges. It can mean putting ourselves on the line, standing up for what we believe, or being an outspoken advocate for a shift in perspective, policy, or practice. It very often means doing things we’ve never done and going places we’ve never been before.
Sometimes being at the edge can feel playful and exciting, while at other times the learning curve feels steep and awkward. The more visible we are with the work we do, the more people witness both our playfulness and our mistakes. The playful and successful moments can be a great thrill, while the awkward moments can be incredibly painful. Both can offer great insights and learning. Not until we are at an edge do we discover just how much we are truly capable of.
I’ve had a lot of practice at living on the edge this year. I’ve traveled to new countries, worked in new cultures, faced challenges and fears, explored resistance and doubt, over and over again. In fact, it feels like the whole year has been one big edge! I’ve realized that edges are just part of the territory. So I’ve chosen to stay present at the edges and not run away. I’ve learned a lot.
Yet perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is that, with practice, living on the edge gets easier. I didn’t say it gets more comfortable, but it does get easier. You get used to it – it becomes more familiar and less scary. I’ve gone from feeling like I was just barely “hanging on” to the edge and shaking in my boots, to more and more being able to relax with the edges and just “hang out.” I’ve learned that each time I step across into the unknown and just go for it, I become stronger and more confident, and I discover something more about myself and about life. Yes, I’ve had a few falls. There have even been a couple of times when I just wanted to crawl under the table and hide. But I survived. And those moments have turned out to be some of my greatest teachers.
If you are committed to living into your greatest potential and doing your part to create a world that works, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Living on the edge can be exhausting. It’s important to take good care of yourself. There will be many moments when you think you have reached the limit of what you can handle. And then, because the circumstance keeps asking for more, you are surprised to discover that you can still go further.
On the other hand, when you know deep in the heart of your being that you need a rest – that you need to step back from the edge and just breathe – then honor that. Be compassionate with yourself; give yourself what you need. Then when you are ready, return to the edge. Honor yourself and your process.
One of the foundational concepts of Transformational Presence work is the “once and for all” commitment. The point of a “once and for all” commitment is that having made that commitment, you stick with it. It is done. You might still slip back when the next edge appears, yet as soon as you realize that you have slipped, you go right back to your edge and face it without question. There is no energy leak or thoughts about whether or not you will honor your commitment. You do it.
However, there is another level. The commitment is “once and for all.”
The mass consciousness is made up of the collective choices, beliefs, practices, and habits of all of us. We all contribute to that consciousness every day. So here’s the great gift. When you make a “once and for all” commitment and step across your edge, you make it a little easier for everyone else who is facing a similar edge to take their step. It’s as if you are showing them that, indeed, it can be done. This is how critical mass happens – one person steps across, another follows, and then another, and in time, there is a shift in the mass consciousness. What was once a big edge for many people has become easy.
In doing transformational work, there will always be edges. It’s ok. It’s normal. And when things are really moving, it might feel like life is just one big edge. So be gentle with yourself while you are also diligent. Meet the edges as they come. Each time you do, you will learn and grow. And each time you step across, you will make it more possible for someone else to do the same.
P.S. If you would like to learn more about the transformational power of “once and for all” commitments, Chapter 3 of my latest book, Create A World That Works, may be helpful. If you don’t have the book, it’s available through our website store, on amazon.com, or in bookstores everywhere. It is also available in digital format for most e-readers, including Kindle, iBooks, and Nook.
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