Do you have Stretch? – Part 2

Whether it’s for a summer vacation or a work project, most people love having a plan. Planning offers a comfortable roadmap to follow, ensuring that we’ll achieve the best results. But there’s a downside, too. Planning can also cause us to miss out on all kinds of beneficial things.

Often, people learn more by acting than by planning. For instance, the Stanford professor Kathy Eisenhardt found that executive teams who make more rapid-fire decisions tend to collect more information and generate more alternatives than those with long and detailed plans. That’s because quick-acting teams focus on the present, working with real-time information about their work and competition. Planners, on the other hand, tend to spend most of their time and energy trying to figure out what the future might look like.

Beyond that, planning can cause us to miss valuable information that’s right in front of our eyes. After all, burying your head in project planning can make it difficult to notice your surroundings.

Just take an experiment by the psychologist Malcolm Brenner. Brenner asked participants to speak and listen simultaneously. He found that, as it came time for a subject to speak, it was common for her to block out outside information. She directed her energy to what she was planning to say. The same thing happened as participants finished speaking. They would reflect on what they had said, missing how others were reacting to their words. Simply put, whether it’s for a project or for what to say next, planning causes us to miss out on the world unfolding around us.

That’s why, instead of planning, stretchers embrace improvisation as the key to progress. After all, when we improvise, we free ourselves up to move and use resources in the most efficient way. We can bend, stretch and position ourselves relative to challenges in the world, making the actions we take all the more effective.

People often act as we expect they will – a fact that can have a major effect on our interpersonal interactions. Expectations influence experience, and they can define relationships, too.

Our expectations are essentially images of people or things that we haven’t yet encountered. Just imagine a new employee joins your company. You haven’t so much as spoken to him but your coworker assures you that he’s a jerk. When you do meet this new colleague, you’ll likely treat him differently than if you hadn’t heard anything about him.

However, expectations shape more than just first impressions. They also direct feelings in ongoing relationships. Consider the example above. Now that you have a bad impression of your new officemate, you might send him signals that express these negative feelings. As you ask him rude questions or adopt a cold tone when speaking with him, you’ll eventually lead him to view you as a jerk as well.

So expectations can damage your relationships with others, but the expectations you hold about yourself can also affect the way you handle challenging situations. That’s because having lower expectations about your abilities will lead you to see challenges as threats, making it harder for you to rise to the occasion.

Such a mindset can have a pretty bad effect. Being scared or mistrusting your ability will lead to hesitation and passivity. As a result, when faced with a challenge – say, the chance to give a speech at a conference – you’ll shrink away from the opportunity. Instead of welcoming a new experience, you’ll block yourself and choose to remain passive instead.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Stretchers know that you can overcome such obstacles by developing positive self-expectations, leading to a transformation that allows you to see challenges as opportunities. If you regard that speech as an opportunity to demonstrate your skills at the podium, you’ll not only take on the task, you’ll also gain new skills and open up greater resources for future growth.

Whether it’s a morning coffee ritual or an evening stroll, everyday routines give you a structure that helps you accomplish more things in a shorter time. That being said, people also tend to see routines as boring and inflexible.

So how can you get the most out of your routine without letting it bog you down?It’s simple, actually: add a touch of creativity. This will help you transform the way you understand your routine and the way it functions. Stretchers do this on a regular ba sis by mixing up combinations in their routine work. In other words, you can do the same exact things every day and, as long as your individuality shines through, always feel that your work is new and exciting.

For instance, you could probably get your kid’s lunch ready for school on autopilot. But if you adopt a stretcher mindset, you might think to add a little note to your son’s lunch, wishing him a great day. This little touch of creativity will make him happier and get you out of your routine without disrupting your day.

Injecting a dose of creativity can do wonders for a stretcher and a similar approach can be used to challenge your assumptions about competitors. For most people, competitors are there to be beaten. But this outlook isn’t necessarily conducive to coexisting with competitors. A better strategy is to treat them like friends.

Working to beat the competition may be a great motivation, but it’s not as good as working together. Just take the professors Paul Ingram and Peter Roberts, both of whom studied hotel managers. They found that managers who were friends with their competitors brought in 15 percent more revenue than those without other manager friends.

These friendships positively impacted the work of the managers by giving them greater access to knowledge about their field and prospective clients. It’s just one more reason to break down mental barriers, get creative and focus on building relationships.

Check out my related post: Do you have a growth mindset?

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