“Come to the edge.”
“We can’t. We’re afraid.”
“Come to the edge.”
“We can’t. We’ll fail.”
“Come to the edge.”
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

– Christopher Logue

In today’s complex and rapidly changing world, we are constantly being called to the edge. The edge is the place between the known and the unknown; certainty and uncertainty; the current and the new.

The world is brought to an edge when there are clashes between worldviews. Industry comes to an edge with the booms and busts of volatile markets. Organizations are called to an edge when they shift from an old identity to a new identity in order to move towards a big opportunity. Teams find themselves at an edge each time they are required to go in an unfamiliar direction. Individuals meet their edge when their belief system is called into question.

Whenever change calls to us, we have a choice; we can acknowledge our personal and collective edges, or deny them.

Recognizing edges allows for the opportunity to slow down and step into the discomfort of a transitional and ambiguous space: exploring the polarity of what is known and unknown; what we are sure of and not sure of. It is in this fertile ground at the edge where ourselves, our teams, organizations, and world has the greatest potential for learning and growth; creativity and innovation. Julie Diamond in ‘A Path Made By Walking’, speaks to the majesty and magic of edges, when she says, “Encountering an edge is like producing art: the interplay between constraint and creativity.”

Personal and collective edges are signalled by sudden energetic changes, such as eruptions and disruptions, laughter and silence, nervousness and excitement; and gaps in information, such as incongruent messages and actions, cycling, and dissociation. We may fail to notice or purposefully choose to ignore signals that we are at the edge, yet we do not escape the experience of discomfort in the tension between what is here now and what is wanting to emerge. More disturbingly, we risk missing the opportunity to grow through transition and emerge transformed as an individual, organization or industry.

When all around us change is happening – fast and slow – up and down – booms and busts – what do we do? Do we react or respond? Do we take a moment to stop and become aware to the emotional process within us? Do we listen for the congruence or incongruence between our head, heart, and gut? Do we check-in with what is going on around us? What are those around us thinking, feeling, sensing? Do we have the curiosity, compassion, and courage to acknowledge our personal and collective edges? Or, do we deny our edges, and in so doing deny ourselves, our teams, organizations, industries, and world the opportunity to inspire change, lead transition and emerge transformed? It’s edgy, yet it’s our choice.

When it comes to acknowledging and exploring our edges, the following quote by Soren Kierkegaard is particularly fitting, “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.” As change leaders, we dare to stumble and be real; acknowledging and being with the discomfort in ourselves and others. It’s from here we have an opportunity to fly.

Kerry

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