THE STRETCH ZONE – Pressure: Unwanted Impostor or Unfamiliar Friend

Of one thing we can be certain, there’ll always be pressure in the STRETCH ZONE – that is why we call it the STRETCH ZONE and see it as distinct from our COMFORT ZONE.

And we so often meet the idea of pressure with reluctant apprehension doing what we can to avoid what we experience as uncomfortable – labelling pressure as an unwanted impostor.

Yet, all is not as it might seem and when we look again we see that pressure, in measure, is actually an estranged friend and companion that we so seldom get to know beyond our projected anxiety.

Our COMFORT ZONE seldom brings out the best in us for the simple reason that it is just too comfortable – it is the SNOOZE ZONE. In contrast, our STRETCH ZONE wakes us up – awaking us out of our lethargic drudgery, bringing out our very best at the same time. Pressure is actually an unfamiliar friend!

Question: To what extent do you see pressure as an unwanted impostor or an unfamiliar friend – and what effect does that have on your performance potential?

THE STRETCH ZONE – Confidence & Stereotypes

Entwined within the fabric of our hurry-up, action-orientated and results-driven world it is not surprising that our assumptions about confidence under pressure so often reflect a stereotypical idea.

Entangled within our conditioned paradigm is the stereotypical idea associating confidence with the outspoken, action-orientated, results-driven personality, apparently to the exclusion of others.

Stereotyping confidence in this way quietly spoken, reflective, people-focused individuals often exclude confidence as an option for themselves by virtue of their personality.

Experience demonstrates that outspoken, results-driven, hurry-ups seek help with their confidence under pressure no less than their quietly spoken, reflective, people-centred counterparts. Confidence is not limited by personality, it only looks and sounds different. And difference does not mean absence.

Question: What stereotypical ideas do you hold about confidence and what is the effect on your potential under the pressure of THE STRETCH ZONE?

THE STRETCH ZONE – Avoiding the Unavoidable

Given the pressure inherent in the STRETCH ZONE we so often deal with difficult situations by way of avoidance – a flight response to avoid facing a perceived nightmare at every opportunity.

Yet, life has a way of catching up with us and we can only avoid the unavoidable for so long – and sooner or later we have to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and face the unavoidable.

So long as we do all that we can to avoid the unavoidable, that avoidance only exacerbates our fear and doubt at the threshold of our COMFORT ZONE – it seldom gets any better.

Whether it is a difficult conversation, a presentation, a cup final, an interview, a date, an exam or a new project, flight only remains an option for so long and eventually we have to step up – and the alternative to fear and doubt is calm, poise and composure – a very different paradigm of possibility.

Question: What do you tend to do to avoid the unavoidable and what effect does it have on yourself and the situation you’re trying so desperately to avoid?

THE STRETCH ZONE – Confidence & Personality

A really powerful assumption that undermines and limits our potential in the STRETCH ZONE is the idea that confidence is limited to the lucky few by virtue of their personality.

Stereotyping personality as extroversion vs. introversion, task-focus vs. people-focus, structured vs. unstructured, reflection vs. action, etc. – under pressure we so often associate confidence with preferences other than our own.

Inherent in this is the assumption that confidence = personality.  The reality is that confidence is in no way limited by personality, it only looks and sounds different. And difference does not mean absence.

When we associate confidence with personality we so often end up trying to be like someone else in the deluded hope that we’ll come across as confident – and it seldom makes much of an impression. The best thing we can do is to be ourselves – and our confidence will be there with authentic congruence.

Question: Given your personality, styles and preferences, what does authentic and congruent confidence look and sound like for you?

Life’s Marathon

With several years work about to come to fruition in the form of my first book and a supporting business to boot, I am in the midst of one of the most exciting periods of my working life.

Yet, in spite of all the potential, the relentless demands and unexpected obstacles over the years has come at much cost – sapping my energy to a point of exhaustion.

What has exacerbated this further is that while there is so much potential, success is most certainly uncertain – and I have had to dig deep to discover renewed reserves to keep going.

They say that ‘the tide turns at its lowest ebb’ and ‘the darkest hour is right before the dawn’ – so in life’s marathon we should never lose sight of our inner most intentions – our bedrock within. When every fibre of our being tells us to give in, we need to keep going with unflinching resolve and single-minded intention – the tide so often turns when we least expect it.

Question: What is your life’s marathon at the moment and what is your inner most intention that will keep you going even through your darkest hour?