If you’ve ever worked out with a personal trainer, you’ll know what it’s like to stretch yourself to the limit. They always want you to go that bit further than you think you are capable of. They stand beside you and coach you to keep going. “But I can’t”, you say. “Yes, you can. Don’t stop. Stay with it. You can do it. I know you can,” they say in the most supportive, enthusiastic, encouraging way.
What happens? You do stay with it. Yes, you can do it, but you didn’t think you could. You wouldn’t have done it either unless you had someone beside you who believed in you more than you believed in yourself and coached you to stretch yourself to your limit. Your personal trainer was someone who knew that most people don’t do that and so they never achieve the fitness they would really like.
It’s such a great sense of achievement afterwards also. Even while you may carry the pain for a few days, it then fades into memory when you begin to experience a new sense of aliveness in your body. When you continue to stretch your body like that over a period of time, extraordinary things often happen. Your body changes shapes. It tones up. It becomes a powerhouse that allows you to do so much more than you’ve ever been able to do before because you now have so much more energy. You experience an aliveness that you’ve never had before.
I recalled all this when I was re-reading a 2009 report by Blessing White on The Coaching Conundrum : Strategies for Building a Coaching Culture that Drives Organisational Success.
The researchers asked 15,000 employees and managers world wide to think of their “best coach”. They were then asked to think of the one coaching action by that manager which they most valued. Here are the results that were most surprising to the managers.
You’ll notice that the highest response – 20% – said “stretched me beyond what I thought I could do”. The second highest – 18% – which is closely related, was “asked questions to help me think through and solve work challenges on my own.”
So managers don’t have to fear that they haven’t all the answers because their people don’t need them to have all the answers. What they do have to be able to do is believe in their people, and stretch them to the edge of their potential – and even beyond! That means giving them “stretch assignments” that challenge them and ”force” them to use talents and abilities that they have, up until now, left untapped.
Every time I have pushed my VIP coaching clients to the edge of the precipice, in spite of their protests and fear, they have always flown! No one yet has crashed into the valley below, because I, their coach, believed in them, believed they could fly.
Having stretched themselves once and experienced it, they then came to believe in themselves. They took more risks. They challenged themselves more, They moved out of their comfort zone on a regular basis. They felt much more empowered to stretch themselves beyond where they had previously been.
You can do that also. You can stretch yourself to the limits of your potential. Go for it – TODAY!