Why go to the edges? It’s what humans do – for all kinds of reasons.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi identifies two contradictory sets of instructions in humans: a conservative tendency – which is about self-preservation, self-aggrandisement, and saving energy – and an expansive tendency, which wants to explore, and enjoys novelty and risk.
We need both the conservative and the expansive, Csikszentmihalyi argues, and whilst the conservative tendency doesn’t need much help, the expansive has to be encouraged or it will decline. Curiosity cultivates its growth but, as we have already noted, curiosity has to be continually nurtured.
Going to the edges is also important because we don’t live in a static world, culture or society. Places of safety can become some of the most dangerous places we can be in. Learning from nature, Richard Pascale, Mark Milleman, and Linda Gioja wrote a business book about how life is most at risk when things are easy – in a state of equilibrium, and strongest when struggling – in disequilibrium. Pruning is about disequilibrium, the gardener using this practice to strengthen a plant and make it more fruitful.
What incentive or motivation to develop is there for someone whose job is guaranteed, whether this is the case or not? Or what learning is there for someone towards developing new products if they’ve simply been repeating the same skills year after year?
Compare this with Seth Godin’s contention in his book Linchpin that we ought to increasingly develop our skills and knowledge so that we become indispensable. It is this person who is going to the edges.
In the last doodle, we considered randomness and how we can grow when we approach it in certain ways. Chaos is something else. We cannot survive in chaos, that why Pascale, Milleman, and Gioja entitle their book Surfing the Edge of Chaos.
SOMETHING TO DO: Bearing in mind Seth Godin’s concept of zooming and taking what we can do further, what small step can you identify to take you to a new place for what you love to do: a book to read, a course to take, someone to talk to, and experiment?