For the purpose of this article, I would like to invite you to think about the coaching process from a different perspective. When we coach clients towards the goal they want to achieve, most of the time we can observe the phenomenon of increasing resistance, a sense of being challenged, an uncomfortable feeling of moving towards the unknown. All of the above is showing up while the clients are getting closer to what they really want. Now imagine that there is an edge, line, boundary, limit that needs to be crossed so they can move forward. This is the moment when our coaching competencies are really getting warmed up. Let’s have a look now at what is really happening in that moment, so we can be a better companion for our clients on their journey of crossing the Edges and creating the results they are longing for…

We are crossing the Edges our whole life. The meaning of the Edge is different for everyone, but the anxiety and resistance are universal for all of us. Every time we are just about to experiment, try a new behaviour or act differently, we are at the Edge. Probably you are able to recognise this moment of entering a zone of internal conflict – “I want x but don’t know how to get there”. As we are getting closer to that place, which is a limit of our awareness, this is when the real adventure can unfold! What we know is not enough to cross the Edge. We are being drawn to what is on the other side of the Edge, but we don’t have the right mindset and capabilities to cross it yet.

Arnold Mindell is the creator of Edge work – the process of crossing the Edges with intention and developed fluidity. In his work he invites us to consciously challenge our idea about ourselves, before we will cross the Edge to something new. Mindell points out that Edges are being created by our personal history, myths, roles, habits, beliefs, social norms and philosophies. Edges have a different kind of intensity and importance, but when we are at the Edge it feels the same for all of us. We might think: “I can’t do that…”, “This obstacle is too big for me…”, “I will not make it…”. And still there is something which is calling us from the other side of the Edge. This inherent human superpower of wanting to grow, to create and explore the limits. The creative force that we all have experienced. That is why I like to think about crossing the Edges skillfully in coaching as a confusing but magical process of expansion. Mindell says that the Edge is generative and functional. A place where new identity can be born. What a great perspective for a coach to hold!

As a coach I practice Edge work myself and with my clients. There is a lot that we can learn about the nature of people by witnessing them working with the Edges. We can observe the patterns of thoughts and behaviours that are getting in the way of moving forward. We can observe what it means to free up creative energy bound in defense mechanisms as well. And with skillful Edge work we can observe the other side of the Edge being slowly integrated – new, spontaneous, resilient, creative Self.

Let’s now explore deeper the process of crossing the Edges in coaching. I will divide it into three parts: 1. Approaching the Edge, 2. Being almost at the Edge, 3. Diving into the New Self on the other side of the Edge

1. Approaching the Edge
At this moment in coaching, we are exploring with the clients their current reality. Everything that creates their identity, the worlds of their beliefs, perspectives, values, challenges. Everything that is important in the context of “now”. Helpful questions:

  • Who are you in this situation?
  • What is important for you right now?
  • What is working in this situation and what is not?
  • What is it you are attached to?
  • What is it that you are pushing aside?
  • What is comfortable here? And what is not?
  • What are your dreams about the other side of the Edge? What are your hopes?

2. Being almost at the Edge
This is the moment of true work. The coach accompanies the client in the process of crossing into the unknown. There are a lot of symptoms of resistance that might show up – such as thinking patterns, body sensations etc. It is important to acknowledge everything and to explore it. It is all serving new awareness. Once we are almost at the Edge our energy is rising up. Something is just about to happen. It is a challenging moment and there is a lot of potential at the same time. Helpful questions:

  • What is happening right now?
  • How is it like to be here?
  • What is guiding you? What truly matters here?
  • What wants to be acknowledged here?
  • What wants to be expressed?
  • What is blocking you from crossing the Edge?
  • What is not useful / helpful anymore?
  • What is waiting for you on the other side?
  • What is emerging as you are almost there?
  • What is calling you from the other side?
  • Who do you want to become by crossing the Edge?
  • What will be different?
  • What values are you going to honour?
  • How can you manage this experience in a more skillful way?
  • What abilities are you developing at this moment?
  • For the sake of what are you crossing this Edge?
  • What is happening in your body that wants to be revealed?

3. Diving into the New Self on the other side of the Edge
Once the Edge is crossed, we can observe a shift in the way clients think about themselves and embody the new perspective. What was impossible is possible now. Unknown experience starts to be integrated. The internal conflict fades away and something new and authentic is emerging. New impulse to create and act. Helpful questions:

  • Who are you becoming right now?
  • What gets integrated?
  • What still feels wobbly? What feels still and steady?
  • What parts of your experience are you ready to embrace right now?
  • What do you enjoy about being here?
  • What is it like to be in touch with the new qualities?
  • What feels bigger here? What is expanded?
  • How can you strengthen yourself in this moment?
  • What’s next?

Crossing the Edges skillfully is a lifelong learning process. We are all on that path somewhere. It is really helpful to see it as an exciting adventure. For the coach and for the client. The Edge means change, opportunity, growth, learning and unlearning. And maybe – after crossing the Edge – we will be able to see that what was holding us back was only a story we created in our own mind.

Of course, coaches are also crossing their own Edges while they are coaching their clients, but that is a completely different story…


“Sitting in the Fire: Large Group Transformation Using Conflict and Diversity” Arnold Mindell

“Creating intelligent teams. Leading with Relationship Systems Intelligence” Anne Rod, Marita Fridjhon

Dominika Pogorzelska, PCC is a coach and consultant working internationally with managers and teams, supporting them to navigate change using creative systems thinking. She is an Executive and Team Coach, certified in Co-Active coaching and ORSC (Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching). Dominika brings 18 years of experience in people and culture management and leadership development. As a Supervisor for Coaches, she supports colleagues in their dedication to growth. Get in touch with Dominika at

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