Are you leaning into the stretch?

embracing change leadership mindset

I have a dear friend who also tortures me as a personal trainer. In most of my workouts, I’ll be doing a plank, lunge, or squat and she’ll say, “Go deeper, lean into the stretch”. She’ll push me to go one step further than I’m mentally prepared to go, and I usually respond with, “No, that makes it harder!” Today I realised the significance of this in the lives of veterinary leaders.

There are times when we avoid going deeper into something, or avoid leaning into something that is stretching us, because we know it’s going to be hard. There are times when we need to stretch beyond what feels comfortable.

Our mind isn’t naturally wired to encourage us to step freely into the unknown, and we can find lots of ways to avoid doing something to protect ourselves from “harm”. The mind limits people from being inspirational leaders because being inspirational, being a way-shower, requires people to consciously choose vulnerability.

It’s crazy to think how much we stand to lose by being contained by the limitations of our minds. The mind will tell you not to try something new, not to take a risk on something that hasn’t been done before, even if you feel in your heart it’s what needs to happen. 

We have to connect with what we stand to gain by doing the things that stretch us, because although it will hurt there’s something even more wonderful waiting for us on the other side. A lot of people are naturally “away from” motivated, meaning they use discomfort as a motivator to get them going, like a deadline, or anger, irritation, fear, or frustration. The leaders of today need to tap into “towards” motivation and create a vision that is so strong and compelling, that it will pull you towards it and be so powerful that it helps you navigate tricky and uncomfortable obstacles along the way.

Since it’s not how we are naturally wired, it’s something you have to work on. As a leader, personal growth must be a conscious choice, and part of that journey is facing yourself, facing difficult situations, finding your blind spots and limitations, and doing the work to overcome them in order to serve your people and the profession more powerfully than ever before.

Our veterinary leaders must BE the change they want to see.