A hike along the Mendocino coast is to experience the edge. It is that place where the land meets the sea. Mile after mile there are steep cliffs and expansive vistas. One person even wrote about this place… “on the edge of the bluffs out where the sky begins you are part of everything and all things are part of you.” So many of us are attracted to these edge places, what is about this edge effect that captures our attention? Why are these places so appealing, energizing and inspirational?
There is a rich diversity of life, colors, and textures at the edge. It is a place of energy. What edges are you attracted to? What are the edges in your community that are sources of energy and inspiration?
Perhaps you remember from biology class reading about the edge effect. “The edge effect is an ecological concept that describes how there is a greater diversity of life in the region where the edges two adjacent ecosystems overlap, such as land/water, or forest/grassland. At the edge of two overlapping ecosystems, you can find species from both of these ecosystems, as well as unique species that aren’t found in either ecosystem but are specially adapted to the conditions of the transition zone between the two edges.”
If we think about edges beyond ecological systems we can start seeing that same richness in our workplaces and communities. When we enter into “an edge effect” creativity, energy and inspiration can unfold.
Think about what happens when you bring big visionary thinkers into a room with people who have strong execution skills. Instead of just talking about what’s possible (the visionary perspective) or the action steps (the executors), a shift happens. A new rich conversation unfolds that focuses on outcomes. A diversity of ideas, perspectives, and opinions emerge.There is energy, it is an organizational edge effect!
It takes courage to enter into an organizational edge. Think about a deer stepping out of the forest at sunset and into a meadow…cautious but determined. Edges require us to leave our comfort zones. However, if we challenge ourselves to let new ideas emerge at the edge, amazing results can happen.
Look for edge effects in your community. How can you nurture the energy, inspiration and creativity of these spaces?
Having trouble finding an edge effect? Start with your community first. Look for a community garden where streets meet vegetable gardens. How has the edge been transformed? How are people engaging with each other, plants and their food? What have the gardeners done to beautify the gardens? What is energizing about this space?
Next look for the edge effect in your office. Look for a meeting with a whiteboard filled with ideas, not the rooms with the powerpoint on the screen. Look for a space where ideas are being generated at a rapid rate. What is this edge? Who are the people in the room? What diversity of people have come together on the edge? What is it about their unique talents that is energizing and inspiring the entire room.
Enjoy living on the edge!