“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin
The other day my sixteen-year-old daughter came home from school practically in tears. Sensing her distress I gently inquired as to how her day was. With animated emotion, she began to tell me about the project she is working on in science class. She’s studying electricity and has to build an electric generator. She made it abundantly clear to me that she’s never felt “dumber “ in her whole life and she hates the project.
My daughter, a bright young woman, has a fairly healthy sense of self and excels in school. She’s well rounded, is a wonderful writer and generally good at math and science. Her true passion, however, lies in the creative art realm.
The challenge of building this electrical generator has pushed her to the edge of her comfort zone and she’s not a happy girl.
My friend, a talented and promising business consultant is in the middle of creating a new company for himself. He is full of inspiration and creative energy and has been gestating a very good idea for some months now. I’ve watched him approach his launch date several times only to see him go back to the drawing board to further tweak and revise his presentation.
The challenge of putting himself “out there” in the world is the edge of his comfort zone.
I am not exempt from this challenge. I’m building a coaching practice. I’ve made the bold decision to be self-employed, forgo the security of a paycheck and the benefits that go along with employment. I’d prefer to follow my dream and carve out a life that fulfills me at the deepest level.
Even though I am pleased with my success, and feel good about taking a courageous stand for my life, there are also financial realities and challenges that I must face having my own business.
When I experience the seasonal fluctuations of my client load, and find myself wondering how I am going to pay the bills for the month, I am at the edge of my comfort zone.
Financial, emotional or physical stress can be a real energy drain and ample motivation to play it safe. I don’t like being at my edge, it’s scary and unsettling. It calls up my anxiety and my old fears and doubts that I think I’ve resolved. Despite my resistance, I want to know what continues to push me forward, and creates the ability to withstand and thrive when I am pushed to my edge.
I think the answer for me is simple: it’s my passion to grow and evolve. Being at my edge seems to provide this opportunity. I notice that discomfort and dissatisfaction are the impetus for daring to risk new territory. It seems that our shoes have to get a little bit too tight before we are ready to get bigger ones. As Carl Jung stated, “ Find out what a person fears most and that is where he will develop next”.
Where’s your edge? What are you at the brink of and wanting to press forward with in your life? What dreams or passions are you denying because you want to stay safe in your comfort zone?
Here are some perspectives and suggestions to help negotiate the edge.
1. Increase your self-awareness. Remind yourself if you are experiencing discomfort or dissatisfaction that you are at the precipice of growth. This is good news. Often a young child will get grumpy and irritable just prior to mastering a new skill. Your increased awareness can help you tolerate this stage. Be compassionate with yourself.
2. Find your solid ground. Make sure you have one foot firmly planted and grounded in reality before you lift your other foot up to take a giant step. Where do you currently feel safe and confident? What aspects of your life can act as an anchor as you push into new horizons?
3. What is the worst that can happen? Dare to take a look. Assess your risk honestly, have a plan, arrange for a back up or ample reserve to carry you through and minimize the consequences.
4. Support, support, support. And did I say support? Set up the structures and resources that will help you to feel sustained. Is it friends, a network of colleagues, a solid self-care system that will help you weather the stress of growth?
5. Continue to reinforce and focus your strengths. What are the gifts and talents you are seeking to share with the world in your venture? Remind yourself and stay present to the reason you want to grow or step out in the first place.
Learning to welcome and live at your edge is an art form. It takes practice, trust and a willingness to embrace all the parts of you.
As I find myself at my edge, in the middle of this snowy, cold New England winter, I am energized. I know this opportunity to practice the art of edge walking will propel me forward into the next exciting opportunity of my life.
It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!