Exploring our edges. My drive on Mount Tamalpais.

I have traveled to Northern California over the last year to take ORSC training by CRR Global. Since I was, for twenty years, a resident of Northern California this training has given me the opportunity to travel to many old haunts, sightseeing and visiting with friends and family. So when I arrived at 2 PM on a Thursday with the entire afternoon to kill, I had to think, where do I really want to go. My final destination was my hotel in San Rafael. But what to do with 4 plus hours on my own with absolutely no commitments. After searching the current exhibitions at all the local museums with nothing of interest, I decided I wanted to conquer Mount Tamalpais.exploring edges

I knew from experience that I should be able to drive up just shy of the summit and that the drive to the top, on a sunny day, would be spectacular. Well, since it was a sunny day, mid-week (i.e. less tourists) I set my GPS for Mount Tam and headed north over the Golden Gate Bridge. So this might seem like it’s not a big deal but I have suffered from acrophobia for most of my life. As I happily drove up to the summit I suddenly realized why I hadn’t been up to the summit in over 2 decades. It’s a long way down to the Pacific and there are no guard rails. I definitely was crossing an edge. The ironic thing is that I was attending a CRR Global session the following night titled “Exploring our Edges” and here I was literally exploring my acrophobic edge.

So this is what I learned about exploring my edge:

1. Name it. Probably the biggest advantage of coaching is that, through powerful questions, you name the obstacle, desired outcome or future state you are seeking. Whether it’s dumping your day job, deciding to propose, changing your business focus or quitting smoking, name the change. It’s not until a coach asks me, “How do you want it to be?” that I realize I want to run a marathon or write a book or start a new business. When you are crystal clear on where the destination is and name it, it’s much easier to explore. It would be like looking at maps of Haiti when you really want to go to Tahiti. Be sure to name it.

2. Experience it. In the CRR Global session, we each had a partner to explore our individual edge. There was blue painter’s tape on the floor shaped as an isosceles angle. The pinnacle of the angle was the “edge” and the left side was labeled “now” and right side labeled “future”. Standing with a coach next to you to experience where you are on the edge (right next to the pinnacle or way down at the base or already on the future side). This helps to reveal your emotional attachment or lack of attachment, your resistance or uncovers your ambition, your fear and your passion. It’s quite different to physically take a stand instead of just talking in the hypothetical. It makes it real. Be sure to experience where you are versus your edge.

3. Test it. When we were exploring our edge in class, we were encouraged to test getting over the edge any way we wanted. Some folks took baby steps up to the pinnacle, one person got down on the floor and sniffed the edge, some jumped to the other side. And then jumped back. I tell you that when I got to the top of Mount Tam and realized I needed to drive back down from where I came, I panicked a bit. Then I realized it was my edge and I could deal with it anyway I wanted. I drove the hairpin turns with a thousand foot drop off at ten miles an hour and imagined I was in the middle of a corn field in Kansas (as flat as could be). As the altitude dropped, my speed increased, and if a car came up behind me, I pulled over so they could pass. I was testing my edge at my own pace.

4. Design it. As you test and experience the change you want, you suddenly become aware of what you need to do to get there or not get there. I’ve seen clients decide that they need be patient and wait for their next stock option vestment, or to sign up for the next coach training or call their financial advisor or get their website up or get safely to the bottom of the mountain. When you finally have some clarity, it becomes apparent what you need to do. Design your next step.

5. Check it. It always helps to have accountability. Whether you put your action step on your own calendar or promise to email your friend after you sign up for that new class or when your website is live. When I drove to the top of Mount Tam, I let my husband know where I was going. If you don’t set up something to be cross checked, it gets lost in the ether; like many good intentions, never to be heard from again. Make sure you have a way to check progress whether internally or externally.

When I began writing this, I had to research if I had vertigo or acrophobia. It is acrophobia (a fear of heights) and apparently women suffer from it twice as much as men. As infants and toddlers we have a natural fear of cliffs. This brought me back to an incident from my childhood. Apparently as a two year old, I tried to crawl out of a second story window and my father saved me just in time. So if I didn’t have the fear of cliffs before, I most certainly did afterwards. I will continue to explore my edge. What edge do you need to explore?

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