By Judi Neal, Founder, Edgewalkers International
Over the past several months we have been sharing blogs on each of the five qualities of an Edgewalker: (1) Self-Awareness, (2) Passion, (3) Integrity, (4) Vision, and (5) Playfulness. Each of these qualities contributes to individuals and leaders being innovative, creative, and on the leading edge. We also shared the five skills of an Edgewalker, with today’s post being the last in this series: (1) Sensing the Future, (2) Risk-Taking, (3) Manifesting, (4) Focusing, and (5) Connecting. In the Edgewalker book, this last skill was originally called “Appreciating,” but our research based on surveys using the Edgewalker ProfileTM confirmed that “Connecting” is the higher order skill.
We see Self-Awareness as the foundational quality of Edgewalkers. Without it, none of the other qualities and skills can arise at any meaningful level. By the same token, we see Connecting as the essential outcome of being an Edgewalker. Edgewalkers are the quintessential connectors. We define Connecting as:
The ability to see and build unique connections between people, tasks and ideas.
I would like to take this definition deeper and say that the skill of Connecting is based on a level of consciousness that sees the world as interconnected and at a profound level knows that everything is Oneness. This level of consciousness comes from two sources. The first is what I call a moment of grace. People often describe these as mystical experiences, where their perception shifts from separateness to being merged with everything. These experiences are accompanied by overwhelming feelings of bliss, joy, and love. Quite often, an experience like this leads a person onto the spiritual path and to a transformation of personality and life. Think of St. Paul’s “Road to Damascus” experience of the light. We don’t earn these experiences and we can’t control them and make them happen. I think of them as gifts from the Universe.
Many things bring about these moments of grace; rituals, sacred spaces, or being in nature for example. They can also be a result of illness, near-death experiences, or great loss. It’s what we do with these wake-up calls that matters. Research shows that an overwhelming majority of people who have near-death experiences come back knowing that they are here for a reason, even if they don’t know what it is. That’s what happened to me in childbirth when I was twenty-four years old, and at first, I thought I was the only one who had ever been sent back. It was such a relief years later, after reading Raymond Moody’s book Life After Life, where I learned that many people have shared this experience of dying and coming back. The key thing is that the experience motivated me to understand why I was sent back and to learn what is mine to do.
The second source of this consciousness of Oneness is some form of regular contemplative practice. We usually think of meditation, prayer or journaling as the primary contemplative practices. Fred Tsao and Chris Laszlo call these “practices of connectedness” in their book Quantum Leadership where they describe a vast array of practices beyond the typical ones, including Appreciative Inquiry, art and aesthetics, and shared group level practices. When I did my research for Edgewalkers, I found that the most common form of contemplative practice in the leaders I studied was what Tsao and Laszlo call nature immersion. Thich Nhat Han says even washing dishes can be a contemplative practice if you shift your attention to oneness with the soapy water, and a sense of service as you clean the dishes. New Year’s Eve, as celebrated in the Western world is upon us, and the majority of the human race is happy to see 2020 go. As we move into 2021, I encourage you to amplify whatever practices you have that lead you to a greater sense of connection and Oneness with the world. We don’t need everyone on the planet to see and live from this Oneness, we just need a critical mass of Edgewalkers, Shamans, healers, corporate change agents, spiritual activists, and artists to do their inner work so that our outer work together makes a positive difference. We also need to see our connection to one another and to know in our bones that we are a part of a greater emergence in the world of a higher level of collective consciousness. You are not alone.