How to Make Stretching a Habit in Your Business

At some point you’ve probably experienced sore muscles. Maybe it was the first time you hit the weights after a long break or you decided to run a couple miles on a whim, when you’ve mostly been running to the refrigerator for the last 6 months!  One of the surest ways to wake up your muscles is to simply do some very intentional stretching.  Whatever the case, the result is the same, you felt muscles you almost forgot you had!

We also know that if we continue to hit the weights, run regularly, and take time to properly stretch before and after workouts something transformational happens; our bodies no longer feel near as sore because we’re conditioning our muscles to be stretched and exerted on a regular basis.  Not only is your entire body getting stronger, but you feel better too.  You’re making stretching a habit.

Stretching in Business –

Every fitness trainer will agree that regular stretching is good for your body.  But what about your business?  How do you stretch yourself in business?  Recently this has been a topic with more than one client; the challenge of stretching themselves or others in their business beyond their often-self-imposed boundaries.   We all have strengths and weaknesses, and although one may recognize them, the biggest dilemma can be not knowing what to do about it, especially when it’s a weakness.  So they rarely stretch themselves beyond what is comfortable to them.

In their book Stretch, Leading Beyond Boundaries,  James Brook and Paul Brewerton explain their model to help stretch your leadership abilities.  These are the 4 habits they identified.

  • Sharing Vision – Creating a clear vision of what success looks like for you personally and for your business.
  • Sparking Engagement – Simply breaking down the Vision into measurable SMART goals.  
  • Skillfully Executing – Getting the right people in the right seats.   Acknowledging successes.  Leveraging team members in roles that play to their strengths and stretch their weaknesses.    
  • Sustaining Progress – Embracing an environment of continuous improvement.  A commitment to learning. A mindset that is always open to the possibility of a better way.

Getting Started….

There are a number of assessments to help you discern your strengths and weaknesses.  The authors of Stretch suggest Strenghscope360.  But tools like the Culture Index, Strengthfinders, DISC, Kolbe, the Predictive Index, and several others are all tools that can help you uncover the strengths and weaknesses of not only yourself but every member of your organization.   

At Aspire, we are proponents of leveraging your strengths, but there is also a tremendous amount of growth attainable in stretching the areas you are weak in, especially when you do it with purpose.    The value in knowing strengths and weaknesses is you can better align people in roles they are more likely to excel at.  

For individuals or teams you would like to stretch in areas they are uncomfortable in, you’re able to do so using a Path of Possibility vs. a Path of Limitations, as Brook and Brewerton refer to them as.  It’s about approaching challenges with a positive mindset.  

| Path of Possibility:  Focus on Strengths, Successes, Opportunities, Trust, Optimism, Self-Worth

| Path of Limitation:  Focus on Weaknesses, Failures, Negative, Pessimism, Helplessness, Stuck

Think about the energy shift if you’re trying to stretch yourself or your team on a project and you’re approaching it with a mindset of Possibilities vs Limitations?   The attitude alone is shifted 180 degrees.   Now incorporate the 4 Stretching Habits of Sharing Vision, Sparking Engagement, Skillfully Executing, and Acknowledging Successes and see what happens to your business!

What are your thoughts?  What are you doing to stretch yourself to be a better leader?  Is there any one tool or model that has proven to be consistently effective?  Do you have a favorite book or podcast on the subject that you would like to share that could help others stretch?  We value your comments in the space below.   

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach.