Learning to STRETCH – Leadership style!

This is a weekly email series focused on Leadership Development at SMUS and this is another installment focusing on our first theme of goal setting.

Let’s recap: You have set your goals (specific and focused) and can visualize the smaller actions that need to be taken. You know how important it is have a person (or a few people) around you that you know will support you on your journey to your goals.  

Now you want to be sure that you don’t “go” through life…you want to “GROW” through life!

This week’s focus is to look for opportunities to S-T-R-E-T-C-H…..

I recently spent the evening listening to bestselling author and coaching guru, Tim Gallwey speak about the work he has done and his legendary coaching approach called the “Inner Game”. There were a few things I found quite relevant but I found myself thinking later in the evening about a very simple point that Mr. Gallwey made.

Responding to a prompt from the audience about the secret to winning tennis matches, Mr. Gallwey paused and said…”Well, that’s easy. You all want to know the secret to winning?”

We were on the edge of our seats…. “Sure!”

Here is what he said:

“The secret to winning every game (in tennis or in life) is to play only those people who are not as good as you. You should win every time.”


I ask you to sit with that for a few minutes.

  • How would that approach to life and leading feel?
  • If you don’t stretch, do you get better?
  • Does it feel rewarding? Do you learn? Who gets better in the end?
  • How often do we avoid doing something that is hard, uncomfortable, or new because we may not do as well as we want?
  • How much are you interested in being perceived as “winning”?
  • Do you shy away from challenge because you may fail?

 Jazz musician, Wynton Marsalis said in an interview once that “if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying.”

Taking the easy road, continuing to do what gives you the easy win, is not always the best for your growth. You can do hard things. You can work hard. You can get better at things that you aren’t good at now. Learning how to find your edge and stretch yourself is a valuable leadership skill.


Stretch yourself this week. When you feel yourself easing away from something that may be hard, lean into that discomfort and see what happens. You are OK with some challenge right? As you get more comfortable with the feeling of discomfort, you will be setting goals that push you to be better, striving for something wonderful, and looking for opportunities to STRETCH. 

That is what leadership is all about.


Parents reading this blog, I ask you to give some thought to whether you are trying to set things up for your children so they win all the time or are in “winning situations”. What do you do when they lose, struggle, fail, feel challenged, flounder a bit? Think of the lessons learned from losing, struggling, failing, being challenged, floundering in your own life and what these taught you about your own capabilities, resilience, and skills. Although challenging at times….try to see these experiences as the opportunities they may need to stretch themselves.


Your resources are always far greater than you imagine them to be. Never ask, “Can I do this?” Ask instead, “How can I do this?”~Dan Zadra, author


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