What is it?
The edge is the boundary between the known and unknown, proven and unproven, possible and not-yet-possible, safe and risky, harmony and chaos. In the training context, the edge is the limit of your abilities, beyond that is what you cannot do yet or have yet to try, or the level of quality not yet achieved, or more interestingly, the strength of others that you cannot possess but may utilize.
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance. — Confucius
Why it matters?
Real education is happening at the edge because what is education if not to push beyond your limits, or else what then you really learn? Thus, it’s important to know, as accurate as possible, where your edge is in order to push it with something just a bit, but not too far beyond that limits so that the impossible can become possible. For example, if you can bench maximum 100kg, it’s good to try 105kg and not 80kg or 130kg.
In a team context, the edges of the team is the overlapping edges of its members, which can be visualized as overlapping waves below. As the result, your contribution is largely depends on your relative edges. For example, if you are a very good backend engineer with average frontend skills but work with some backend experts, then it’s your frontend skills that matters.
Finally, for society as a whole, innovation is improving at the edge, and modern society is defined by people who pushed the edges.
How to apply?
Identity the edge. This is hard because beyond the edge is the unknown and we don’t know what we don’t know. The only way is probably trying to perform at the max of your abilities while observing yourself as well as receiving feedback from others. For example, most of us don’t know how fast you can really run until we really run. Another example, is SpaceX “trying” to have their rockets blow up to test the limits of their technologies. Pushing the edge. No pain no gain, so expect some screaming, pain, doubt and hurt feelings. Also, most things are impossible in the short term but possible in the long term, so having a sustainable strategy, with sufferable pain, to keep pushing the edge is the key. For example, it’s almost impossible to 2x your abilities in 1 week, but if you can improve 1% per day then you’d be 7% better in a week, but 37x better in a year. This is why our program is not about 2x your abilities but to develop the 1% habits a.k.a be a teacher. Be a teacher. This is where things feel uncomfortable, experimental, risky and daring. This is the edge that we can identify in almost everyone. Pushing this edge will not only improve you but also improve people around you and your team as a whole. There is probably nothing better than being a teacher and be in a team of teachers. Pull requests (PR). This is a new tools we want you to add to your teaching toolbox. In the education context, it’s matter less what you can do than what you can do better. As the result, please help others do better, and receive feedback from them to outdo yourself. PR is the secret sauce of software development, it’s how software engineering can improve much faster than any other disciplines: embracing changes. Be a pleasure to disagree with. What are the edge that define your characters? It’s your behaviors when things are bad and unpleasant. There is rarely a life or death situation in our line of work, the worst things are usually just people disagreeing with each others. The natural responses to these situations like being offensive, defensive, making excuses, fighting back, etc, keep most people within their limits. Don’t be afraid. And don’t expect all your efforts to succeed, part of pushing the edge is not being able to succeed all the time.
“Judge talent at its best and character at its worst.” - Lord Acton