THE STRETCH ZONE – Questioning, Questioning, Questioning Oneself!

When the pressure is on to achieve a certain outcome we find ourselves outside our COMFORT ZONE and in the STRETCH ZONE – a space characterised by an unforgiving pattern.

Under the pressure of the STRETCH ZONE our confidence and composure seem to vanish into the ether, displaced by a relentless noise, clutter and distraction banging about within the mind.

What should I do? What might happen? What happened last time? Will I look the fool? Do I know enough? What are they thinking? Will they listen? Will I fail? Am I in control? Am I good enough?

Under the relentless pressure of the STRETCH ZONE we question, question and question ourselves in all sorts of different, yet unnecessary ways. So long as our mental faculties are hijacked by unwanted self-questioning – we’ll never be able to focus where it matters and be at our best!!

Question: When under pressure of the STRETCH ZONE in what way do you tend to question yourself and what effect does that have on your presence and composure when it really matters?


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 – Worrier or Warrior

When coaching within a leadership development context I so often find myself saying, ‘you have a choice, you can be the worrier or you can be the warrior’ – and it is absolutely true for everyone in the STRETCH ZONE.

Life has a way of catching up with us and try as we might we can only avoid the unavoidable for so long and we, sooner or later, have to face up to life’s challenging moments.

When under pressure to step across the threshold of our COMFORT ZONE we are frequently hijacked by fear and doubt – and when it really matters, as the worrier, we hold ourselves back for no reason.

The alternative to being the worrier is to be the warrior, that fearless and courageous fighter within each one of us, poised, composed and calmly confident when it really matters. Under the pressure of the STRETCH ZONE what we seldom realise is that being the worrier is optional – and being the warrior is the alternative.

Question – From your experience what does the warrier look like and sound like for you and how does that compare to the worrier as the lesser of the two options?


THE STRETCH ZONE – Our Day-to-Day Experience

Over the past 15 years I’ve asked countless seasoned leaders whether they see themselves as confident and they either say ‘no’ and then negate that saying ‘yes’ or they say ‘yes’ and then change that to ‘no’.

Regardless of whether it is ‘yes – no’ or ‘no – yes’ this response is such a consistent pattern reflecting our day-to-day experience of confidence at the threshold of our COMFORT ZONE.

In The Stretch Zone I call this pattern circumstantial confidence where our confidence seems to come and go depending on our circumstances at the time.

The trouble with circumstantial confidence is that our confidence is less dependent on ourselves and more dependent on our circumstances. And, being circumstantially dependent, we are not really in control of our confidence and never really know if it will be there when we need it most – not very reassuring!

Question: To what extent is your experience of confidence circumstantial with it coming and going depending on your circumstances at the time?


Life Happens in the Stretch Zone!!

In our humanity we are most certainly creatures of comfort, seeking to minimise our pain while maximising our pleasure – and why not enjoy all the comforts life has to offer!!

Paradoxically, however, when we are within the safe confines of our comfort zone immersed within our pregnant pleasures that is exactly what happens – we become confined by none other than ourselves.

Experience demonstrates that our comfort zones give birth to complacent stagnation as we become seduced by the trappings of yesterday’s successes – which, like brass, quickly lose its brilliant shine.

The reality is that life really happens in our stretch zone when we enlarge ourselves beyond the illusory ideas upholding our confined self-conception. While our comfort zone brings complacent stagnation, our stretch zone inspires, invigorates, enlivens, energises, achieves – creating a life worth living.

Question: As a fellow creature of comfort to what extent are you stagnating within your comfort zone? What is the stretch zone for you at the moment – right in front of you today?