Stretch: (VERB) To extend, force, or make serve beyond the normal or proper limits; Be made or be capable of being made longer or wider without tearing or breaking.
Recently, I watched an interview where actor/producer/writer/director Edward Burns was talking about a single act that changed the course of his life.
He told the story of when he was ‘an unknown’, working as a production assistant for Entertainment Tonight. After a press junket interview with Robert Redford, he seized the opportunity and gave Redford a copy of the film he self financed, produced, directed and starred in called ‘The Brothers McMullen’.
The rest, as they say, is history.
He landed a coveted spot at the Sundance Film Festival and subsequently won the Grand Jury Prize, going on to a successful career in the movie business.
Hearing this interview left me 1) completely inspired and 2) thinking about the concept of being bold and taking bold actions — stretching outside of our comfort zones, seizing opportunities to go after our dreams, and “playing big” in the world.
I thought about my own life, and those times when I stretched outside my comfort zone to go for something bigger –- ‘scary’ decisions, actions that felt uncomfortable — and how, as a result, the trajectory of my life changed for the better.
One such act occurred earlier in my corporate career working for a Fortune 100 company. The company had recently gone through a series of reorganizations, and I found myself in a role that did not best suit my skills, expertise, and most importantly (to me), my interests. I found myself very unsatisfied and not utilizing my strengths to the best of my ability. It’s important to note, the corporate culture at the time was one of fear, anxiety, not knowing when the next reorganization (which meant layoffs) was going to happen, and ‘Playing it Safe” was the norm.
At a going away party for a colleague, I found myself talking with the head of my department, a well respected senior executive within the company. He asked me a bit about my career and some specifics about what I was working on, all very cordial, friendly, ‘chit chat’. During our exchange, I remember at one point asking myself, “Do I really answer him honestly, with what I want to say? Or do I tow the company line with neutral dialogue, saying nothing that could possibly leave me exposed for the next round of layoffs?”
I decided to be bold and speak my truth. I told him, in a positive and respectful way, my strengths and successes in my career to that point, the type of role I was interested in, and what brought me the most satisfaction and fulfillment, and thus, the most success for the company. We finished our exchange and I remember walking away still a bit nervous, wondering if I should have ‘gone there’ and been fully transparent with my thoughts and intentions.
A few months later, sure enough, another reorganization happened. This time, I found myself in a new position – actually, a newly created position – which, wouldn’t you know, matched my exact description and outline I had shared with the senior executive. In this new role, I excelled, and it propelled me forward into my next career move.
This taught me a lot about myself and how powerful stretching can be. It also gave me confidence and set the stage for future bold stretches in my life, including picking up and moving across the country to start ‘anew’, and later, starting my own company.
I’m not saying it will always be easy, but I do know that stretching allows you to extend, grow and develop in areas beyond your ‘normal’ or comfortable limits. You will not “tear or break” – but rather accomplish MORE — grow more, develop more, achieve more, become more.
I encourage you to ask these questions of yourself:
- What do you REALLY Want?
- WHO do you want to become?
- What Stretch or bold move can you take to get you there?
Now is the time. Seize your Opportunities and Go For It!
What does it mean for you to be bold and stretch beyond your comfort zone? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.
*image courtesy of sericite