Sifting through life over 5 decades and over 3 decades as a professional within that has taught me the lessons of stretching oneself beyond the normal comfort zone to achieve extra ordinary goals.


And whether we liked it or not have seen how we have stretched when pushed to the wall – the last days or hours before exams, an important event or ceremony, getting our paperwork in shape before a deadline, burning the midnight oil for an important presentation or for crossing a seemingly impossible business target in the last 48 hours. One thing which happens almost every time is that we mostly end up in flying colours with the joy of that adrenalin rush that comes from crossing the finish line successfully. Not that I am advocating last minute finishes but talking more about the joyful feeling at the end of that stretchh.


Stretching sure does cause stress, but for those who work best under pressure, it also relaxes as we cut through the clutter, take quicker decisions and operate so much more efficiently than we normally do and achieve so much more in the end. So it comes packaged with a high and a final state of satisfaction, relaxation and peace – quite like what one would feel after a yoga or martial arts stretching warm up round.


I have had so many experiences at work with my teams and with my clients and leaders and it is interesting observing how they initially react when I speak about a 100 % growth in their business that has been slowly clipping along at a nominal or flat growth, or taking on some stretch goals for themselves. I tell them anything less than that does not excite me !


At first I get that strange look – is this guy out of his mind ? Is he talking through his hat ? Is he just testing us ? Will he be there when we go through the struggle or just preach his bit and disappear ? But what is also interesting is that how often people realize and accept that they have not stretched themselves to think and act beyond the obvious because there was no one to challenge and hand hold them. Quite the role coaches play to get their team rallying to the top and get every member to outdo themselves for the cause.


How a 2X growth agenda galvanizes a group is amazing as the opportunities and challenges, gaps and barriers and corrective actions all come out into the open and give and take a few differences it also brings in a fresh buzz and excitement which so often gets lost in a mundane firefighting work atmosphere where everyone seems so busy fighting fires they create!


On a personal note a few months ago, I experienced the joy of stretch in a different field when I converted the joy of walking into the joy of stretch by my wife and me registering for a 10km marathon for the first time ever. At 55 plus my normal walks used to be anywhere between 4 – 6 kms at a time and so 10 km did seem doable but a clear stretch – 2 X only ! After all I had to practice what I preach all along πŸ™‚


The next few weeks saw my mind opening up to doing greater distances and earlier wake up time. Given I have already had the discipline of practicing meditation every morning for over 35 years it made it has always made it easier for me to raise the bar in my mind whenever I wanted to on an area I wanted to.


So when I decided I would do 8 or 10 kms from the following week, it just meant a recalibration of the mind to the end goal and the walk seemed so much easier even as one stretched beyond the comfort zone to 7, 8, 9, 10 kms as the distance just disappeared under my feet. One day I really stretched – even went all the way upto 13 km at a stretch without a strain and that’s when it all fell into place – the fact that the 10 k marathon would be a cake walk. And so it did on the big day, effortlessly in the end for both of us and with no aches or pains or groans – just the joy of winning the mind game πŸ™‚


Nowadays I keep looking and finding so many cases that are inspiring where people have gone beyond their comfort zone. Four people known to me recently made a trip to the Himalayas for the first time (minus their normal support systems) and despite all the pain and bitter cold or camping in the open and other challenges they faced along the way, the only memory that will remain in their minds forever will be that sense of pride and self belief. And a rediscovery of how they relook at life back in their normal routinesand how so many things are taken for granted here while up there each day is a battle for survival and conquering new hurdles.


Sometime back the news spoke about a 14 year old Indian girl who climbed Mount Everest – what self drive and discipline and determination is that at that age? And the latest is Malala at her young age winning the Nobel peace prize And the other day I came across a man who I bump into during my morning walks and I was surprised at the speed and lightness with which he moved and overtook me. That surprise turned to amazement when I discovered that he was in his 70’s. Truly inspirational – each of these examples and countless more!


These examples taught me yet another lesson in life – how Stretch Goals can move from being mere management jargon to helping people across ages to stretch themselves and make the seemingly impossible goals possible.


And to get the self induced kick and high that can drive one to do the same in whichever area or interest or passion they wanted to pursue but where the self doubt and mind games won more often. Just think of the many things you can do differently and better and do join the stretch movement and discover a new YOU by conquering your mind and not letting it hold you back!


Make your mind your best friend – not your enemy. Cheers to the spirit and capacity of our little minds which can dream big things and just make them happen when we decide to S.t.r.e.t..c..h ourselves and discover new possibilities !


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