Beyond the Edge: Distilling the Depths

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.


  • Hi Dan,
    I am so hap­py you made it to San Juan! HOME.…(to me)and in read­ing your encounter with Abel I remind myself to remain avail­able to all who may want me in their lives. Inter­est­ing chal­lenge, to take the oppor­tu­ni­ty giv­en in this life to be as full as we can be. And think­ing of it, truth is one vehi­cle. I’ve been focus­ing on love and won­der how close the 2 are… (food for thought). ahhh, tell us more about the island… more pic­tures please… Ben­di­to!… how about a sunset? 


  • Ahhh! Karen Puer­to Rico — San Juan — is a beau­ti­ful place. If only I had a lit­tle more time for these post­ings. Yes, love is so close to the Source — it is not fair to leave it all to the truth alone. I am sure Abel would agree. It is hard not to believe when all the peo­ple I have met share in this sen­si­bil­i­ty. Sun­light and the soft­est air I have ever felt! 

    I will pub­lish a few more pho­tos next week when I am back to Seattle.

    Best to you…

  • What a great sto­ry about Abel. God real­ly does work through peo­ple to find truth, wis­dom, love, etc., if we let Him and don’t resist to fol­low where He leads.

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