THE STRETCH ZONE – Real Conversations & Cultural Credibility

Over a period of a few years I had the pleasure of working within a professional services environment doing skills development work around partnering and consulting amongst highly educated scientists.

Fundamental to what was holding these outstanding people back within the realm of relationship management was the observation that they were just too nice, a culture of politeness, a comfort zone.

While on the one hand theirs was a culture of respect, on the other hand there was a culture of politeness where people were just too nice – avoiding the real conversations their relationships depended upon.

When it becomes a cultural norm to avoid the stretch zone of real conversations, we unintentionally co-create a culture of questionable credibility. Cultural credibility, amongst other things, depends on the extent to which we express respect through our confidence in ourselves and others to have the real, yet difficult conversations.

Question: To what extent does your organisation’s culture reflect a comfort zone of polite avoidance or a stretch zone of respectful engagement addressing the real issues through real conversations?


THE STRETCH ZONE – Living Anxiety in Advance!!

In his inspirational writings Seth Godin said: ‘anxiety is nothing – but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste’.

At the threshold of our COMFORT ZONE, under the pressure of those moments that really matter, we so often hold ourselves back unnecessarily imagining what might happen.

Hesitant at the threshold the mind is hijacked by fear and doubt about what happened last time or what might happen this time – repeatedly re-experiencing imagined failure in advance.

This reality is nothing but fiction – a fiction that so often dominates our reality. What holds back our potential is nothing other than conditioned doubt as we re-experience failure in advance. When we disconnect with doubt’s fiction and reconnect with the moment’s reality – opportunity happens with confidence!!

Question: When under the pressure of your STRETCH ZONE to what extent are you aware of your mind repeatedly re-experiencing imagined failure in advance – and what is the effect thereof?


THE STRETCH ZONE – Building, Boosting & Acting Confident

Following a recent blog post about the STRETCH ZONE Sara kindly got in touch reflecting her need ‘to boost her confidence’ at times when under pressure – just like everyone else.

No different to the rest of us, when under pressure to achieve beyond our COMFORT ZONE, we typically speak about the need to build, boost and act more confident – not recognising the conditioned assumption.

When we build, boost or act more confident what we’re really doing is projecting a façade of pseudo-confidence over suppressed fear and doubt – and it seldom lasts and is rarely convincing.

Language about building, boosting and acting confident reveals an underlying assumption that confidence is something we lack and need to learn and acquire. Confidence is not something we lack, it is our natural state, an imminent potential within – and rather than manufacturing what is already there it is better to channel our efforts and energy differently to where they matter most.

Question: When under pressure to what extent do you subscribe to the idea of boosting confidence over suppressed fear and doubt – and what is the effect on your performance and potential?


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?