In the pursuit of excellence whether in business, sport or my personal life, I like to continuously challenge where my real or perceived limits are. I often find that when I explore a limit, I find an edge. This edge is where I start to explore, understand and challenge the belief that is defining the ‘limit’.
Exploring where the edge can be uncomfortable. It generally challenges an existing belief, yet my desire to improve, my pursuit of excellence, drives me forward to find, explore and push this limit. I won’t find the limit unless I push the limit, push to find the edge, move with it, learn from it and find a way through it.
An example is in preparation for the 2019 rowing season, I have challenged the Masters Rowing Squad to train differently to how they have in the past. Together we challenged the belief in the “no pain no gain” approach to athletic improvement. (Side note; see Seiler’s Hierarchy of Endurance Training Needs 2016) On exploring what the best in the world do to go fast. we identified the key themes that define success and the supporting tactics. Some of these themes challenged general beliefs and concepts, yet instead of going with what everyone else is doing or the dogma of failed strategies, we are focusing on building up the season in a healthy, intelligent and personalised way that has proven to be successful.
Although the squad knows the approach works, it challenges their beliefs. Together, we need to be consciously aware of what we are doing and why we are doing what we are doing. We need to be aware that our approach is challenging our belief systems and the beliefs of others around us. We need to pay attention to our thoughts and fortitude to stay the course. Simple questions like; “whats the purpose of this session”? help to bring the awareness to what we are doing and why.
Another example may be when challenging an organisation in transformation to examine existing organisational beliefs. The old quote of ‘this is how we do things around here’ or in excusing leadership beliefs and or behaviour that are not working as ‘The Organisation’s DNA‘ need to be consciously put on the table for discussion.
Leaders need to explore and understand how successful teams have navigated through change. The default norm of ‘telling’ people what to do and being directive simply is not as successful or effective as empowering teams with clear direction, with trust in the organisation to work it out. This may challenge existing beliefs on what it meant to be a leader and may place leaders at the edge of their beliefs and along with the ambiguity, doubt.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”Albert Einstein
Like the rowing squad, leaders that acknowledge they need to work differently and consciously pay attention to their behaviour generally do. It feels different, yet when supported, leaders can gain strength in exploring the edge through cooperating and collaborating together.
So what you say? Well in the pursuit of excellence I’m constantly looking for the edge, understanding what I need to do differently or optimising the ‘same‘ to achieve my personal and professional goals. I’m paying attention to what is making me uncomfortable and why. I’m getting feedback from close counsel on what I may need to do differently or pay attention to. I’m challenging my beliefs. I’m finding the edge…
Excellence. The quality of being outstanding or extremely good.Oxford dictionary, 2019