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Stretch! 3 Ways to Do More With What You Have

stretch reaching-hand

The teacher stopped the presentation and asked for a volunteer from the class. A young lady was the first to raise her hand and was brought to the front of the room.

“I want you to stand against this wall and reach your hands up as high as they can go.” said the teacher.

The young lady went up on the tips of her toes and reached her hands high up the wall, touching a spot with her finger tips.

“That’s as high as you can go?”

“Yes”

“You’re sure?”

When she answered affirmatively again, he stood up on a chair and put a piece of tape on the wall where the tips of her fingers had reached.

Then he took out a $100 bill and told her, “I will give you $100 if you can reach higher than that piece of tape.”

The young lady went back to the wall, got on her tip toes, reached her arms up and then somehow stretched her fingertips about an inch past the tape.

“Now hold on,” said the presenter. “You told me the first time you had reached as high as you possible could!”

“I thought I did!” she said.

We all laughed as the young lady collected her money and sat down.

stretch CookiesI have thought a lot about the lesson of that demonstration over the years and how it applies to us individually, and organizations collectively. From time to time we are all stretched to our limits. But are they our actual limits or just our perceived limits? We can all probably think of some times in our life when we had given everything we had but then were forced to dig deeper to give a little more effort.

I think that the most common mistake we make as humans is that we underestimate ourselves every day. We avoid certain ambitions or opportunities because we think we don’t have the time, energy, or ability to accomplish them. We forget that we are able to stretch. We all have a little more ability than we initially believe. Often times, we just need the right motivation, like a $100 bill, to bring out that extra effort from us.

Stretch LionSomeone once said that if you ran as hard as you could until you absolutely couldn’t go anymore and then looked up into the face of a hungry lion, you would suddenly find a little more energy to run away.

In sports, it has been shown that athletes will give up mentally about 20% sooner than their body would have to give up physically. We tell ourselves we are too tired to go on long before our body actually becomes too tired to go on.

In life, we determine a task is too hard or impossible long before we have really tapped into our full abilities. This is the root of failure. Determining our full ability based on a flawed misconception of what we think is our limit.

Winners are not just the people who are vastly superior. They are the people who will give just a little bit more than the common person. One more phone call, one more mile, one more push or effort. When the voice in their head says, “You’re done.” they still go a little further. And it is in that extra effort where all of the growth happens. The real victories and successes happen after the point where you first thought, “I should give up.” Because when you stretch to accomplish something great, you never return to your original size. You grow. Mentally, physically, emotionally. And the next time you have a big task to accomplish, your reach will already be a little farther.

Action Items to “Successify”

#1 – Stretch Your Vision. Take a look at the ultimate vision you have for your life. Your career, income, hobbies, accomplishments, relationships, etc. What would you have to accomplish so that on your death bed you could say you lived a successful life? If you have already accomplished everything or feel like you could do it in the next few years, try setting a bigger goal. It will inspire you to stretch yourself further.

#2 – Exceed Expectations. Look at your current situation and determine the biggest task, project, or obstacle that you are dealing with. Think of ways that you could not only accomplish it, but exceed anybody’s expectations of what the task requires. Figure out how most people would finish it, and then do it better.

#3 – Ignore the voice. When you are in the middle of something really hard, that voice will come and try to tell you to stop. Learn to ignore the voice and push on. You have so much more in you than what your think you have. You must convince yourself of this. The only way to do that is to try it. Once you exceed your reach a couple of times, that voice will learn to be quiet.

I wish you success as you learn to stretch yourself to your full potential. Success waits for you on the other side of your limits.

Kris

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20 comments

  1. #3 speaks to my world. In painting, they always goes through an “ugly” stage where I’m tempted to toss it and start again. Some of my best work has been done by pushing through that and taking it to a finish. Just keep going.

  2. Very well written on the power of no limits! Thanks.

  3. Great post – I needed to read this today!

  4. I love your post, and I will like to copy it and add it in my blog Giving you the credit of course and putting a link to your blog ¿is that OK with you?

  5. I liked your post, and I will like to copy and put it in my blog, giving you the credit of course and a link to you blog. Is that OK with you?

  6. I know you generally meant bigger things in life with this post, but I am in the middle of a very stressful uni period and have an oral Latin exam tomorrow evening. I was just about to give up on revision for today (it’s 10pm here) because I’m exhausted, and this was just what I needed. I’m gonna get a piece of cake and study a bit more. Thank you. Whenever there is something that bothers me, I go to this site and it has just what I need.

  7. Best yet. I’m going to save this piece, print it, and read it often. Thank you, Kris!

  8. Reblogged this on Lost In Translation and commented:
    As I consider the next step in my life, this is a great inspiration…

  9. Such posts just keep you pumped up. Some sort of an adrenaline rush. I can go on an on reading these, but i realize i need to get back to the real world and implement what i have learnt here. Thank you so much. Keep up the good work.

  10. This is very positive and encouraging…….it is so true that we can always reach deep inside to stretch and go further!

  11. I just finished mosaicking a TEN FOOT long fiberglass guitar for a public art project. There was a small snafu at the beginning that pushed getting the blank guitar back by a week or so. I ended up working 10-14 hours a day (every day for 54 days) on it and really used all the stretching I could to stay true to my design vision and get it done on time. I did both, and the feeling of accomplishment is amazing.

  12. I appreciate the idea of stretching as I am at a place in my life where life is hectic for reasons that I wanted (kids, new house, new job, etc). It can be stressful but if I want to get something done then I have to find the time and ignore the “voice” saying that my plate is full and I can’t possibly get anything more accomplished currently. It’s interesting how everyone’s advice generally is “slow down”, “don’t put so much pressure on yourself” when I often feel like I am just stretching myself. Thanks.

  13. Real booster. Thanks for this.

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