Finding the edge: where are you at with finding yours? You know, finding “that” edge that allows you to always be the best you can be?
What does living and working at “the edge” mean to you? How do you know where your edge is? How often have you “pushed the envelope*” and had to suffer a setback as you found where the edge was. Or are you “coasting” through life, well within your boundaries, taking no risks so that you can’t fail? Are you using all your talents to live an exciting and stimulating life, or does “that edge” just appear too dangerous? A matter of perspective, isn’t it?
A great example of finding the edge
I was talking to a motor cycle racing rider at a BBQ last weekend, fascinated by what drives grown men to such “daring drives bordering on insanity”. There appears to be such an incredibly fine line between being upright and skating across the tarmac on your behind, isn’t there? And all that at several hundred km/h.
We discussed how he knows where to find that edge between winning and crashing out, and he agreed that to find that edge, you have to cross it to know where it is. And that meant in his sport to be found cart wheeling onto your behind from time to time, hopefully not too battered and bruised in the process. OK, that was just a bit too far…. next time I’ll know. And so that “over the edge” experience defines the benchmark – for now, because someone at some point will find a technique or a way to extend the boundary to that edge just that little bit further, won’t they?
I asked him about his age (he is close to 50!) and about his lap times and he surprised me by suggesting they are still consistently keep coming down as technology gets better, but also because he is that much more experienced than the “young guns”. But mainly because he is doing what he loves best and keeps working on being the best he that he can be. I was inspired, I tellya.
I was enthralled by a further context, namely how the enjoyment has shifted, in that as a “young gun” the rush was finding the “edge” whereas at a more mature age the enjoyment of the experience keeps bringing you back and the challenge shifts to staying at “your edge”, not necessarily the “groundbreaking edge”. For me that means we don’t always have to be the best there is, we just need to be the best we that we can be. To feel great about “our edge” and not detracted that we might not have hit “the edge”.
I realized from that such a powerful life message. As long as we keep “pushing our envelope” in that way and keep striving to improve ourselves, we will not only raise our game, we will keep feeling great about ourselves. Like the proverbial “dog in the hunt”, with that attitude there just won’t be much time (or need) to “search for fleas”. For those of you than have children, please never underestimate how much they are watching and learning from us, no matter how old we are. It’s hard to expect them to “push the envelope” when we are “sitting on the couch”.
Forgive me pasting the full famous quote of Theodore Roosevelt here, but he said it so long ago so much better than anyone could:
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat
So why don’t you just reflect on this past month and have a think of examples of where you “pushed your own envelope”. How did that feel? Whether it worked or you ended up “on your behind”, didn’t it feel great to “have had a go”?
Think of where you could have, but didn’t. How did that make you feel, and how do you feel about that now?
You know, I have learned that we can’t change a lot of things. We certainly can’t change other people, particularly those close to us. We can only change ourselves. And we can change ourselves so that we can be the best we can be.
You can you know? And if you feel you might be struggling with that, why not find yourself a coach and have them help you find the right options and perspectives that will work for you, and “get you off the couch”?
What if you could?
*By the way, in case you were wondering, as I was, where this term comes from I looked it up: The envelope here isn’t the container for letters, but the mathematical envelope, which is defined as ‘the locus of the ultimate intersections of consecutive curves’. In a two-dimensional example, the set of lines described by the various positions of a ladder sliding down a wall forms an envelope – in this case an arc, gently curving away from the intersection of the wall and floor. Inside that envelope you will be hit by the ladder; outside you won’t. So there we go – now you know. I really hope it got you maths whizzes excited, because my head is still spinning….
Nick Gole says
Absolutely inspiring stuff 🙂 the last line from the quote – “so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat” says it all. I am trying every day to raise the bar, to push the envelope. Thank you for the inspiration.