When I was a kid growing up in Cleveland, there was a high school wrestling coach who wrote a book that impacted me greatly. It was a book primarily of quotes from coaches, athletes, etc. I was deeply inspired by the book. I used to read it often. That book was written by Howard Ferguson, who was the St. Edward wrestling coach at the time. It’s called “The Edge”. The seed was planted for me to keep seeking out wisdom from others. At the time, I didn’t have enough life experience to truly know what The Edge was.
Growing up as an athlete, I experienced some of what it was like to have this “Edge”. I had talent and worked hard to develop skills. I was able to become a pretty good soccer player in my younger days – good enough to earn a college scholarship to a top 20 ranked Division One school.
Unfortunately (or fortunately in hindsight), I lost “The Edge” I had developed and I struggled immensely during my college years. I was facing some personal demons and, frankly, didn’t know how to deal with them. This led to some poor play on the field and I can easily attribute it to my mindset. I simply lost The Edge.
As I’ve ventured into adult life, I’ve been through peaks and valleys (as we all have). I’ve experienced The Edge at times and I’ve also experienced the Valleys. Over the last two years, I’ve studied deeply what gives people this Edge and what experiences bring me close to having it.
What I’ve uncovered is that everyone has the capacity to gain The Edge but it’s not easy. It takes time. It takes practice. Combining my personal experiences with a deep study of many top performers, I’ve come up with a framework that I believe gets us closer to experiencing “The Edge” on a more consistent basis. I call this framework – AIA.
THE AIA FRAMEWORK
First, to really perform at a high level, you have to be Aware of your current state. Are you reaching your potential? What are you great at? What are you struggling with? You must be honest. You must take ownership of your past, your present & your future. Where do you want to go? This is all about Awareness.
Second, you have to live with Intention. Once you have the awareness of where you are today and where you want to go, you must be intentional in planning how you’re going to get there. This takes work. It takes reflection. It takes writing down your thoughts (or typing). It takes surrounding yourself with people who inspire and challenge you. This can be anything from vision to goal-setting.
Third, you must take action. Awareness tells you where you are today. Intention helps you understand where you want to go. But, without Action there is no going from Point A to Point B. Many people fall short here. Execution is hard. It takes work to make big things happen. You’re going to struggle. You’re going to face uphill battles. But, the perseverance and the mental fortitude to keep pressing on is usually the secret sauce to execution.
Thinking about Process vs Outcome is Paramount to living with The Edge
I really believe that any high impact outcomes are more a product of embracing the process than only focusing on outcomes. Lincoln has a great quote – he said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
I love this idea. I think we spend too much time in a default state of reacting and not enough time preparing and building. We’re stuck on the surface and our attention is at the mercy of something or someone else. To accomplish anything of significance, it takes an ability to back up and think about what you’re really trying to do. Plan with a purpose, set specific milestones and then embrace the process to get there. It’s not always pretty…in fact, it can be really ugly. But, you must trust the process.
This is why I’ve constructed this framework. AIA – Awareness, Intention, Action. It literally is the basis for all I do now. I believe you can layer this onto many things. I’ve used it at work with sales processes and consulting engagements with clients. I’ve used it with coaching clients. I’ve used it for my own personal goal setting. I’ve used it with the soccer team I coach. I’ve used it with my relationship with my wife. I’ve used it to plan a church Mission Trip and I’ve used it to help run a Development initiative at a non-profit.
It’s really the operating system that I utilize today and I wanted to share this with you. I will be sharing more in depth as we go and I’m currently looking at creating more formalized ways to teach this and share this. I’m even considering a complete brand change with The Catalyst Project in the near future.
The bottom line is this – my mission is to see as many people as possible dig deep and reach their potential. This is as much about contributing to others in meaningful way as it is around achievement. I think it takes work for sure but the awareness of where you are, the intention of where you want to go and the disciplined action to do the work forms the basis for this.
So, welcome to The Edge – I look forward to sharing more with you as we go!
How can you take action today?
My encouragement to you is to gain some awareness. Think about your life in your primary areas of intention – for me it’s Faith, Family, Health, Finances, Contribution and Personal Development. On a scale of 1-10, write down where you are in each area. Then, write down where you’d like to be in the next 12 months (be realistic – if you’re a 2 in one area, getting to a 10 may be a challenge. Why not get to a 5 first, then go from there). There’s a great tool called the Wheel of Life that helps you do just this – Check out this link where you can either download a free template to create your own or use their guide to create one. That’s a good start. Do this every three months and you’re on to something. This is your first step to real Awareness.