Seeing someone REALLY work their edge is incredibly inspiring. Who do you know that has been working their edge?
December 2018 I was very much at my edge. For the first time in my life I found myself staring at a video camera (actually four video cameras) while shooting video for an online class we launched in early 2019.
Unfortunately we didn’t get off to a good start.
Perhaps it’s more true to say “I” didn’t get off to a good start. Looking back, I suspect this was to be expected. After all, I was engaging in something completely novel.
After 10 minutes of struggling I noticed that my trapezius muscles had made significant progress in their anxious journey towards the tops of my ears. Ouch!
I was able to notice how this experience was causing me to come off center. We decided to take a break to re-arrange some of the recording equipment, and I worked to re-center myself. I stretched a bit (helpful) and spent five minutes chanting to Shiva (VERY helpful).
Thankfully our technical adjustments worked, and I started getting the hang of things. I’d never acted, or spoken directly into a video camera. I was very clearly AT MY EDGE.
My “edginess” was indicated by the signals my mood (souring), internal conversation (critical) and body sensations (quite yucky) were broadcasting. My ability to notice, tolerate and work to shift these signals, while continuing to keep going were the key to success.
Despite all the internal signals of anxiety (fear about something terrible happening in the future) I was able to stay in relationship (with myself and the video team) and kept going. Taking action amidst anxiety is the definition of COURAGE. Seen this way, anxiety + action = courage. Lacking anxiety we are unable to demonstrate courage. Our edge lives we at the border of excitement and anxiety – a place of profound aliveness and deep meaning.
In close to two decades as a coach (and many decades on this planet) I have observed clients or personally experienced five common ways to be in relationship with being at the edge:
1. Not working my edge.
This can be a valid choice, especially when we’re feeling personal depletion (rather than replenishment) and/or worldly scarcity (rather than abundance). There are times it makes sense to choose to lay back, take care of yourself and LIVE into what you have created. This might be a time of consolidation, and of rest.
2. Believing I don’t have the ability to work my edge.
At times in my life I felt in over my head. I have had periods where I felt collapsed. This isn’t a good place to live. If we hold an identity as someone incapable of working your edge, we will definitely stay stuck as a result of being collapsed. This may be habit, rather than choice. This is the domain of “not enough” engagement with our edge. The way out of collapse is through action and building a tolerance to demonstrate courage in the face of anxiety.
3. Certain I’m working my edge (but really not).
This is a place of self-deception. If “I’m working my edge” is a narrative that’s not backed up by action, you will imagine you’re working your edge AND will stay stuck. How do you (or I?) ground the assessment that we’re working our edge? What do others in your world think? Do they think we’re really working our edge? This too is a domain of “not enough” engagement with our edge. Perhaps our story is AHEAD of our reality. If this is the case, the remedy is (i) shifting our story or (ii) stepping into new actions that allow us to catch up with our story.
4. Way too far out on my edge!
This is over-extension. Rather than being at my edge, I am way BEYOND my edge. This is the domain of “too much” engagement with our edge and can leave us feeling quite out of control. Perhaps we feel like we’ve been drinking from a fire hose. We may feel very excited, or be in a well justified mood of panic! This is a time to settle down and integrate all the new territory to which we’ve just gained access.
5. Truly working my edge.
This is a choice-full place to be. It’s a place of “not too little, and not too much.” When we’re really working our edge we know it, others know it and the world tends to respond accordingly. This is the “goldilocks” zone of not too little, and not too much. If we think of a yoga class – too little means we leave feeling just as we arrived. Too much means we are flirting with injury.
If we’re able to locate and stay in this zone, rather than being stuck in old patterns (VISHNU), we slice through obstructions and create space in our life (SHIVA) so we can make creative and novel moves (BRAHMA) that create new patterns in our life (NEW VISHNU). By leaning into our edge we foray beyond the known into the unknown. From this new perch we can see or feel new possibilities and opportunities. We have the courage to take new actions amidst feelings of excitement, anxiety, anticipation and curiosity. Ultimately we generate new, meaningful and satisfying results.
Working our edge involves facing into CHALLENGE. When we do this it’s very helpful to have:
When you work at your edge you are truly living (and loving) your life.
In 2018 many Kirtan Leader Institute students have been working their edges. Here are just a few examples of what they’ve been up to: