I recently read this wonderful article by Parker Palmer that is actually a prelude to his book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old. The content of the article and the title of the book struck me as profoundly relevant, not only to our lives but also our companies.
As someone who recently turned 50, became an empty-nester, and initiated a re-start of his business, it hit me that I am on the brink of everything. I was so struck by this idea that I couldn't get it out of my head for days. And the more I reflected on it, the more I realized that this phrase wasn't resonating with me just because of a few significant life moments. Instead, I realized that we are all on the brink of everything...everyday.
In our companies, many of us set long-term strategic plans, shorter-term operating/action plans, and use daily or weekly huddles and to-do lists to get things done. We take those big picture tools and boil them down into smaller, digestible things that help us move forward.
In our lives, many of us meditate daily, go on retreats, practice yoga or run, or write/journal on a regular basis. They allow our spirit to emerge and keep us centered as we go on with our daily lives.
And between the two - our companies and our lives - we often step back and reflect on tired and old axioms like "the world is our oyster", "the possibilities are endless", and "opportunity is everywhere."
To me, however, on the brink of everything is not only more novel and memorable but also more personal. I can visualize myself standing at the edge of a cliff with this vast expanse above, below, and in front of me. That expanse isn't represented by the sky, the ground, and natural beauty. Instead, it's represented by all that exists today that I can take advantage of tomorrow. And as an entrepreneur, that includes both my work and my life.
On the brink of everything serves as a daily reflection that keeps us forward-looking and yet present. It allows for our heads to wander into the clouds while our feet remain on the ground. And it reconciles our grand plans for the future with the wisdom that those plans will never turn out as expected.
So as we sit at the dawn of another new year, setting goals, priorities, and intentions, let's also recognize that we are not only on the brink of everything right now, but that we will remain so everyday.
Parker Palmer will soon turn 80 years old. If someone at that age believes that he is on the brink of everything, imagine what that means for those of us who are younger, and what that means for our companies, regardless of their age.
We tend to believe that when we're just starting up, the possibilities are endless and the world is our oyster. But, in truth, that doesn't change when the company turns five, ten, or even 30 years old.
Happy New Year. You are on the brink of everything.