Every year I co-facilitate a great event called “Beyond the Edge: Affirming Your Destiny as a Leader.” You can find out the full story of this event by transferring to the BTE website here.
While Beyond the Edge is not meant for everybody, in a personal way I believe everybody should come. It was designed for anyone who wants to know herself or himself much more deeply, who wants to learn from the heart what it means to be a real instrument of change.
I facilitate this event with my close colleagues, Barb Hummel and Jay Howell (who you can also find out more about on the website.) We don’t have some hard and fast definition of “leadership.” Generally speaking, we believe a leader is anyone who sincerely desires to make a conscious and positive difference in the world and sees the connection between their own personal development and making that difference. That’s how we see ourselves. We’re not gurus, just good, accomplished conveners out there everyday like you are, trying to make a better world, and who know something about the process of leadership unfolding.
If you are reading this weblog and you find something here that resonates with your own work and your own personal view of yourself, you may want to think about attending.
There are too many stories to tell of how people have come to Beyond the Edge over the last ten years and how they have made important discoveries. Some of these are not so much life-altering revelations as very straightforward confirmations of what was there all along — but that, by itself, can be the most powerful thing for any of us. There is a famous image, sourced in Zen Buddhism, that says we all need time to let the silt settle out from the pure water of the spring. That’s what Beyond the Edge is, a chance to let the water clear, to distill the depths, and then look through rather than look at. People have come for so many reasons: to find their vision, to cure a fear of failure, to rediscover the person who can operate from equanimity, joy, patience or hope. So many reasons and just one really, having to do with releasing an essential, deeply personal possibility. Beyond the Edge is a kind of portal to a better world through the growth of people who in whatever ways, large or small, with corporations or non-profits, in their lives with their families or only with themselves, are intentional. They lead.
Once you have been to Beyond the Edge you can never really go back to looking at the world in quite the same way. It is not that this experience adds something so radically new to your life. It is more that it just speeds up the wheel that is already turning, a wheel that you may have noticed but not quite known what to do with. That’s the way self-knowledge is. It’s always taking us someplace, always compelling us to purchase yet another ticket. Beyond the Edge makes you stop and notice this process in much more detail. And it confirms a way of being so eloquently expressed by Deepak Chopra: “Awareness cannot unfold without also unfolding outside events that mirror it.”
As it turns out, I happen to be working in San Juan, Puerto Rico this week. Last night as I flew down from New York, I sat next to an older man who introduced himself as Abel. He was my “outside event,” my current life experience of Beyond the Edge. I had an option: strike up a conversation or return to my self-absorbing book. I was tired from flying all day from Seattle. I was tired from the weeks before. I wanted to retreat into myself and rest. But, of course, this was just the moment for fate to intervene, and so naturally I found myself striking up a conversation. I understood in some way this was something I had invited long before I got on the plane.
For the next few hours I listened as Abel told me much of himself, his faith in life and his deep gratitude for his seventy-one years on this planet. He expressed his belief that the measure of people is their generosity. And he shared how once some years before he won a lot of money playing the numbers and decided to buy a mountain top in Puerto Rico where he might meditate. But before that could happen he was visited by the voice of God who said to him out loud, “Abel, why the heck do you need a mountain top anyway?” And so he desisted, he told me, realizing the ego of it. Abel is a humble man but a very powerful one. Before his step-son, a taxi driver in San Juan, dropped me off at my hotel, he shared a line that spoke volumes to me: “You cannot find the truth unless you make the truth your life.”
When as friends, Jay and Barb and I put Beyond the Edge together in 1996 and 1997, I think that was exactly our guiding thought, though never expressed so well. We wanted to help people find the truth by living it. Not a mountain top experience (although the Tetons are beautiful and inspiring), but a quiet place to enable a deep ideal and a conviction, that we can all use some time to find a better way into the world by first finding a better way into ourselves.