EDGY Conversations

"What stands in your way of greatness isn’t challenges or obstacles or your perceived limitations. What stands in your way is the misguided belief that what you want to do is impossible."

- EDGY Conversations, page 47

EDGY Conversations by Dan Waldschmidt is a cut-to-the-chase book that both affirms and challenges everything you think you know about being successful. EDGY is actually an initialism that reflects the four essential attitudes that successful people exhibit:

E = Extreme (as in extreme behaviour)
D = Disciplined (as in disciplined activity)
G = Giving (hopefully self-explanatory)
Y = Y(h)uman strategy (as in You need to know how to authentically interact with people)

The book has several ‘EDGY’ chapters devoted to each attitude and lots of real life stories about people whose choices and behaviours embody that attitude. Each story serves a dual purpose – to confront our carefully contrived excuses for why we aren’t wildly successful and inspire us to be bolder in the pursuit of our dreams.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Who Are You? (Who, who, who, who?)

"You will be whatever you are planning to be."
- EDGY Conversations, page 79

I’ve always loved that tune by The Who and it seemed a natural fit for my take on the book’s The Big Idea. Waldschmidt reminds us throughout the book that success is less about following a seven step plan and more about who we are, how we think and the decisions we make.

So…do you know who you are? Do you know who you want to become? If you want to make a difference in this world – what does that look like? Why is that important to you?

These are not rhetorical questions. The first step on the long journey to (outrageous) success is knowing what your strengths and aspirations are, why you want to accomplish that dream and what the gaps between where you are today and where you want to be look like. It’s only when you can answer these questions in excruciating detail that the real planning can begin.

Action Item #1: Set aside some time in the coming week to reflect on and articulate who you are – the values, characteristics, skills, experiences and demographic attributes that make you, YOU!

Once you have a clear idea of who you are, you will be in a better position to consider who (and where) you want to be in one year, five years, ten years and beyond.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Do You Want Door Number 1 or 2?

"Every moment is a choice to pursue what is most important or to make an excuse and run away from making the hard decisions."
- EDGY Conversations, page 149

Fans of the long-running TV show The Price is Right know that the final showcase requires the contestant with the most prize money to choose which prize package they wish to bid on. Sounds simple enough except that the prizes are hidden behind large doors and so the contestant must blindly pick either door number 1 or door number 2!

Sometimes the decisions we face in life feel like an episode of The Price is Right. Do we accept a new job at another company or stay put? Do we invest in the stock market or buy an annuity? Do we renovate our home or move? Big decisions with somewhat unpredictable outcomes.

And yet, it is the smaller, daily decisions that ultimately determine our future success more so than the big ones. Consider your expressed desire to lose 10 pounds before your planned vacation in three months. Success inches closer or slips further away with every decision you make about what you put in your mouth at meals and coffee breaks and whether you choose to go to the gym or kick back and watch your favourite TV shows because “it’s been a hard day.”

According to Waldschmidt, “The secret to getting what you want from life is understanding that what you do right now drives your future.” Which leads us to Action Item #2: Stop making excuses about why you are not doing something. Deliberately choose to follow-through with those small tasks that over time will bring you closer to achieving the success you want.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

It’s Always Darkest before the Dawn

"Success looks a lot like failure up until the moment you break through the finish line."
- EDGY Conversations, page 163

Let’s face it. There is no such thing as ‘overnight success’. Sure, some people have an extra measure of natural talent or the right connections but that alone isn’t enough to guarantee fame, fortune and outrageous success. Elite athletes put in countless hours training – physically and mentally. Famous authors spend months researching the content for their books and years honing their writing skills. Successful CEOs work their way up the corporate ladder one project, one position, one opportunity at a time. And don’t kid yourself, each and every successful person has experienced multiple set-backs along the way.

The difference that makes the difference for ‘winners’ lies in how they deal with the setbacks. As Thomas Edison is reported to have said about his team’s efforts to invent the incandescent light bulb, “We didn’t have 10,000 failed experiments; we learned 10,000 ways it wouldn’t work.” Put another way, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” It all comes down to “the attitude you have, the things you say to yourself, when you’re faced with overwhelming obstacles.”

Successful people keep at it. They know that, “You fail only if you quit. You will succeed if you just won’t quit.” YOU need to believe in YOU even when no one else does. Which brings us to our final Action Item: Create (or borrow) an inspiring mantra or a tagline that you can chant daily to keep you focused and sustain you when the going gets tough. Nike’s “Just Do It” will suffice if you are having trouble coming up with your own.

Dan Waldschmidt tells his readers early on that we don’t need another book on success and that EDGY Conversations is not your typical ‘success-advice nonsense’. He wants to have a “real-world, gut wrenching discussion about the emotional challenges of success – a focus on attitudes instead of just actions.” It’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill ‘how-to’ success book and as you read each chapter it comes as close to feeling like an EDGY conversation as written text can.

For me, this book was a good reminder to be more deliberate with inserting small action steps into my weekly calendar so I make incremental progress on my important stretch goals. And I think I’ll add The Who tune to my playlist and crank up the volume so I remember to stay true to who I am!

Which letter of the EDGY initialism is your strong suit? Which one do you think you need to focus on more to generate the outrageous success you desire?

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Dianne Coppola

ABOUT Dianne Coppola

I am passionate about leadership development, change management, community collaboration and…reading! I’ve been writing for the Actionable Book Club since 2014 and love to share my book insights with folks like you...
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