You get up to do a presentation and you dry up. The words just aren’t there. Somehow you finish and sit down and spend the rest of the day beating yourself up for not having performed better.
You sit down to dinner and your partner says or does ‘that thing’. You can’t stand it anymore and can’t stop yourself from reacting. The atmosphere is ruined and you end the evening going to sleep with your backs to each other.
You go to a dance class (this happened to me last night), get invited to dance and then pull off the clumsiest dorkiest move ever. The other person decides (in their wisdom of self-preservation) to move off and I, spend the next 10 minutes feeling like a fool and unable to get back into the groove.
All these situations are examples of what can happen at a growth edge- the place where your current thinking and way of doing things is challenged.
This idea of a growth edge has been playing on my mind for months now because it is one of the those key areas that as we become aware of it, enables us to have a huge impact on our lives.
This is because it is not limited to the three situations mentioned above. It is hidden within just about every single interaction, challenge or activity that we undertake.
There are a couple of powerful reasons why we don’t notice and work consciously with our growth edge more often.
The first is that it is generally misunderstood- we may have some sense of what it is as an idea, but don’t have a framework to understand it that enables us to do something with it in the moment.
When our habitual way of thinking is challenged, even on a relatively minor issue, it is often perceived by our thinking as a threat to its survival. This is why we can sometimes over-react when somebody makes an innocuous comment- it has threatened us on a deep level.
The second reason we don’t know how to work with the growth edge effectively is because we don’t have a way of understanding how creativity actually works in us.
Creativity is the bringing of new forms into existence. This can be a physical creation, an idea or some new part of ourselves that we want to bring through into our lives.
The first impulse to create comes from somewhere unknown in us and follows an arc (hopefully) through to full completion.
Take the desire to speak at a dinner party. Somebody makes a comment, you have an impulse to reply. On one occasion it flows easily and is picked up by the group. On another occasion you find yourself paralysed and the moment passes. This is one example of a creative block.
We all have these blocks at various points in that arc of creation from initial impulse to full manifestation. What tends to happen when we experience a block is that we tend either to beat ourselves up or project our frustration onto those around us. And this only makes matters worse and keeps us stuck for longer.
Getting to know how to work with our growth edge enables us to handle these moments with more skill so that we are able to transform the block into something that acts more like a stepping stone than a wall. The block takes us through to the next level rather than stopping us cold.
Instead of being crushed by failure in a presentation we can turn it round faster. Sometimes even in the moment rather than being haunted by it for hours or even days.
Instead of over-reacting when our partner does that one thing we can catch ourselves and neatly sidestep our reaction and avoid the wall going up.
And just maybe, when we pull the worst dance move ever, we can just laugh and move on.