I used to train Brazilian Jui Jitsu. I remember a grappling match I had in the gym where I was going back and forth with this guy, attacking and defending. At one point, he popped up on his feet and in response I transitioned to a double leg takedown. Immediately, he sunk in a guillotine choke. What had been give and take suddenly became me struggling not to get choked out. Afterwards, when we were resting, I asked him, “Hey, remember when I tried to take you down and you guillotined me? What was I doing where you were able to sink in that choke so deep?”

He thought about it for a second and then said, “Your head was down. It was like a neon sign that said, ‘guillotine here.””

At some threshold in my training, I started to learn more from grappling than from the formal instruction of classes. Sometimes, I’d be stuck with an opponent and I’d learn by using principles and hypothesis to test tactics to break through that wall. Other times, I’d get caught and ask my opponent what they saw, like with the guillotine.

For all this, I was looking for the edges of my capability, trying to answer the question of where could I grow?

Identifying your edges is an exercise in elevating your awareness to bring something hidden into the light of consciousness.

In business, you don’t have opponents who can show you in real time where your weaknesses are. However, you can identify edges by testing your business through gap analysis. By either, benchmarking against standards or by benchmarking against the ideal, you reveal where things aren’t working.

Featured image is Mitsuyo Maeda (1878-1941.) Maeda was a father to Brazilian Jui-Jitsu and made a name for himself as “Count Combat” through open challenges to best him in public exhibitions in cities around the world. Provided by 島津書房 – The Japanese book 『世界柔道武者修業』 used under Public Domain.