Somewhere along the way, we teach ourselves to avoid things that are uncomfortable.

“Hey look at this,” we think. “If I just stay right here in the middle – away from all those sharp edges – then I don’t get too banged up.”

The “middle” is different for each of us.  For some, the middle means not trying at all.  For others, it’s grasping for the perfect no-fail formula to eliminate any uncertainty.

It’s understandable. The edge hurts sometimes.

About a year ago, I hit an edge. Hard. Some of my team and I were meeting to ramp up on a project when one person skulked in holding a sheet of graphs and numbers.  She’d been sent in to our meeting to deliver the bad news:  Our numbers for this project had plummeted over the last three years. And she was assigned to begin our meeting by sharing the downward curve.

I was part deflated, part infuriated.  I could allow this edge send me back to my hole. Or let it amp me up.  In that moment, I chose the latter.

With heart pounding (and an inner critic shouting at me to roll over and play dead) I took a deep breath.  I stood up and dug deep to create inspiration.

And my team and I went “all in.”  The results we ended up getting not only broke every previously held record – but we created an entirely new standard for all projects in the future.

When the sharp edges sneak up on us – as they tend to do – we can either lean in and let them prod us in the right direction.  Or we can find ways to soften them or numb them out.

Conveniently, we live in a world that will jubilantly help us soften the edges.

We distract. We eat. We smoke. We drink a glass (or three) of wine before dinner. We become anti-anxiety, anti-depression, anti-mood. We watch hours of Netflix. We soften the edges.

And it kinda works, you know?  In the moment, we seem not to get bumped as hard.

Only problem is that as we lose the edges, we lose a lot of other things too.

We lose the wisdom that the edges are designed to bring.

We lose the intuition that comes from the experience.

We lose the discovery of our own boundaries and preferences.

And of course, we lose the joy that is a natural result of vulnerability, awareness, and energy.

All of this results in losing our clarity, too.

The sharp edge I hit last year has produced more clarity, joy and wisdom than I could ever have gotten from anything else.

In other words, you can try your level best to stay smack dab in the middle, not bumping into the edges. But one day, it will occur to you that you have avoided so much more in the process. Including your own life.

It is always tempting to think, “If I’m truly living my purpose, shouldn’t it just always be easy?”

But that’s just that old story we’ve memorized over the years, trying to keep us safe in the middle of the road, not failing – but never winning either.

Welcome and bless your edges. After all, no one succeeds without them.  They are your teachers.

In the comments below, please share an “edge” that has been a great teacher to you – and has ultimately made you more successful!

21 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Danielle

    After divorce I’m learning how to be comfortable in my own skin without needing a “somebody” to feel ok. The world tells us to find our worth outside of ourselves and when we don’t, we’re programmed to numb out via the outside world. Being 7 years sober, numbing is not an option. It’s amazing, irritating, interesting and sad feeling like I’m bumping into edges everywhere. The truth is there is a higher power at work that knows I’m ready to bump into these edges and further become the woman I am destined to be. To not need anyone to be OK. To choose when I want company.

  • Amy Kobos

    This article is representative of how we get sucked into what we have been taught in Western society – It’s damaging. We lose our identities. We are not taught to be mindful of the present. We are usually focused on the outcomes.

    I’ve been in college for 16 years, which still hasn’t given me the degree to give me that $100,000/yr job. I have pushed and pushed and sacrificed my creativity and my identity in order to “be a success” according to society. I miss myself. I have not done the things I have loved since I was 16 years old; I am 34 years old now. Sure, I’ve traveled and done some photography here and there, but there has not been one day yet where I could safely say I am free to do what I want because I, and we, have been so focused on proving myself/ourselves to society.

    We do not need these high-paying jobs or need to receive a master’s or doctorate to be happy. In fact, my community-college technical degree I received 10 years ago pays the same as someone with a master’s degree. My bachelor’s doesn’t even compare. We have it all wrong.

    We must be creative to achieve our real goals in life that doesn’t suck our identity away. We must break the edge. Otherwise, we lose many years of our true selves.

  • Shannon

    Thanks Christine! I feel like I am at my edge at times. Over the last three years, I have taken a serious financial and time risk to “uplevel” my business. As a therapist for 20 years, my dream of leading workshops, publishing my 3rd book and creating successful online courses has put me in a squeeze. Not only did I invest way more money and time with great faith in a fabulous program called the enlightened best sellers to end up with an Ebook, a fabulous book proposal and an online webinar that had a very sad beginning but I am now investing in this program to push things over the edge. I have parred down to as few of hours in my practice that I can and still survive ( living out of savings for anything extra) so I can have 2 days a week to launch my other businesses. This weekend I cohosted a wonderful retreat but made very little money again. Have a laundry list of fabulous new things going ( like this expensive and wonderful book proposal) yet no time (due to maintaining everything else) to launch it yet. I saw a dream interpreter last week who said a dream I had ( that I was in the hospital with heart issues) was a warning that I needed to slow down and listen to my heart more. I have obliged and took the last few days off. Looking forward to making all of these new career streams lucrative, sustainable and supportive so I can transition once and for all with ease. I will lean into this edge. I know I can… Thanks for your support Christine! From one ashevillian to another…
    Much love!
    Shannon

  • Dee

    Dear Christine
    I absolutely love reading your inspirational blogs. I am a solo domestic/commercial cleaning contractor and I have been fumbling along for the last almost 3 years. I often demean my own work by asking myself how I have ended up as “just” a cleaner, but in fact I am very good at my work and get a real sense of satisfaction out of restoring order and creating a welcoming ambiance. I have had to overcome many personal blocks as well as outside obstacles to get this far – and I want to continue growing. I intend to use my work as a vehicle to highlight the value of the often unappreciated/hidden work of women which is essential to the success of any person, home or business. Reading your articles continues to keep me motivated and inspired and I thank you for your dedication.

    • Christine Kane

      Thank you Dee! I LOVE what you wrote here. It’s so very true. Even when I was playing music (and people would tell me “you’re living the dream, man!”) I had to have lots of “come to jesus” meetings with myself about the TRUE purpose of that journey. I came to understand that the music was like the boat I was choosing to go down the river in. But the river was going to teach me the lessons no matter WHAT boat I chose! (Are you coming to Uplevel your Business in Atlanta? I’d love to meet you!)

  • Janelle

    My word of the year this year was Growth – and I know I couldn’t have achieved growth without some scary edge work. I’ve played to my edge when I decided to do a client retreat. I’ve played to my edge by hiring help. I’ve played to my edge by committing to things I knew would feed my soul and my mind even when I wasn’t sure where the money would come from to get me there. Although being in my business sometimes feels like a giant roller coaster ride, it’s a heck of a lot more exhilarating and exciting than the merry-go-round of my old job, and that’s why I love it. Thanks for this Christine!

  • Jennifer Flint

    My first big edge was leaving my old job, which I did a couple of years ago, thanks to the support of my very sweet boyfriend. The next one was to find work that I found truly spiritually satisfying, so a few weeks ago (following a rather odd string of events) I began offering aura readings by photo on my blog, and amazingly, people started showing up!

    It’s still pretty scary, but it really seems to be working, so I’m taking it one day (and one reading) at a time. Can’t wait to see where this ends up – edges be damned! 🙂

  • Kimberly Sherry

    Another YES for San Francisco!!
    My edges are creating group events. Doing the one-to-one interactions with clients is easy for me. But doing group events really pushes me to get clearer, more organized, and focused. It challenges my fear of being seen. Every time I keep getting bigger…energetically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
    SF could use you here…I love that I have gone from hiding in my massage room as a CMT to becoming an Internationally recognized intuitive healer who travels around the world with unlimited possibilities!! WhooHoo!!

  • Andrea

    Hi Christine, I love this very much! I am very creative and a person who likes to take steps, to do. As a Dreamcoach I love to dream big but I found out that I even love it more to act, to make them real. So as every year I mak a list about everything I dream about, it takes me 30 minutes of writing, not thinking, only puting everything down. So here is my edge: Last year I wrote: I want to connect with people English speaking persons- and guess what… I made so many contacts, so so many. Now I realize that this is a heartwish but that I think: Who wants to work with someone who doesn’t speak perfectly English? My website is in German, my Freebie will be it too, my blog is in German/English- but where will it take me? (…to Atlanta…thank you Christine, it feels like coming home already). /Edge: I never left Europe, do it for Uplevel Your Business! Big smile on my face!
    Love, Andrea

    • Christine Kane

      Can’t wait to meet you at Uplevel Your Business Andrea! Wow – you’re traveling a long way! I’ll make sure it is TOTALLY worth your investment!

  • Nneka, Working Mystic

    Christine, I know you’re in Baltimore or Charlotte, but did you read my mind? 🙂

    I’m having a spazz attach right now because I’m on the edge. I’m at the edge of my life as a worker and jumping into my life as an entrepreneur an it is scary as hell! I found myself slipping with my food and “treating” myself at the end of the day. Yesterday, when I decided not to, the feelings erupted. Thanks to my fellow UYB’ers, I climbed down. Or did I take a step off the edge and the road appeared? It’s like they are on the other side cheering me to take the step and I did. I am.

    Perfect timing!

    • Christine Kane

      Those days happen, Nneka. To everyone. And now you get to experience first hand why I am in masterminds and have coaches! 🙂

  • Wendy

    Yes! San Francisco, I agree with Sage! I live about 4 hours north and would make the trip to see you!

    A sharp edge for me has been avoiding putting myself out there as an artist thinking I wasn’t advanced enough. Reading your blog and taking your free coaching calls inspired me to take some brave steps and show my work to a local antique store. That was about a year ago. I have been selling my works there ever since. And now I am expanding into jewelry making parties, an online Etsy shop, and am leading an art retreat in the mountains this fall! The sharp edges for me were the nerves! I was so scared and nervous to present myself each time. In the past, I avoided those moments. Now I know I am strong enough to be brave!

    I am a high school teacher by day and an artist always.
    Thank you Christine!
    ~ Wendy

    • Christine Kane

      You are welcome Wendy! And congrats on all that great stuff!

  • Sage

    A sharp edge for me has been Web design. I fought so hard against learning HTML coding. I thought, “Shouldn’t this be more intuitive and user friendly?” But by learning the coding myself (even though it took a while), I’m able to make changes to my Web site myself. And when there’s a problem, I can usually determine where it is in the coding. I still don’t like the technical “behind the scenes” stuff, but I’m a better business owner for facing my sharp edge and learning from it.

    Christine, I am so excited about the Totally Do-Able live stream tomorrow! Oh, and you have to come to San Francisco! 🙂

    • Christine Kane

      Sage – Thanks! I hope you got to watch the livestream! (And yes, I will come to SF within the next year for sure!)

      Love that you learned the coding. I felt like that when I first started blogging – and now i’m so grateful to me for having gone through that discomfort. It’s a no-biggie item now (even though I no longer have to do it myself.)

  • Paula

    Edges are fences. They keep me from getting to what I want. You have to find a way to break through the fence.

    Latest “fence busting” was talking publicly about my art to the gallery volunteers so they could share my vision with visitors about the latest collection of paintings. So not my comfort zone!

    Once I realized not doing it was actually hurting me financially, I called to set up a time for the meeting. It went fine – not perfect, but good enough. Now that I’ve done it, I realized the fear was far more stress than the actual talking. Next fence – painting in public.

    • Elsa

      I have a trick for things like this. It’s called book-ending.
      I write out my fear, which is what I ‘expect will happen’. For example, ‘If I paint in public-people will think I’m crap, I won’t be able to paint well because I’ll feel nervous, I’ll make such a fool of myself, who am I to think anybody will even want to come…”, etc.
      Then, I go out and DO IT ANYWAY
      I come home and write out what ACTUALLY happened. Sometimes, but rarely, it’s correct and that gives me an opportunity to change things. But mostly it turns out to be a wonderful experience and one I’m so glad to have DONE ANYWAY!
      The more “book-ending” I do, the braver I become.

      • Tiffany

        I love that…bookending 🙂 I need to try it. Thanks for that insight Elsa.

    • Christine Kane

      Hey Paula! — Yes the fear is often worse than the actual activity itself. (I call this my “Proportional Theory of Dread.”) Well, GOOD ON YOU for doing it! 🙂