Stretching in 2023

Ever wondered why we stretch when we wake up or before we get down to doing serious exercise? Have you noticed how a cat stretches when awake after a good nap?

Stretching helps loosen our muscles and tendons. By increasing the blood flow to the limbs, stretching prepares your body for the workout so that you do not strain your muscles. You are thereby using your internal strength to gain more power for your exercise.

Now, what happens if we were to, by the same logic, stretch our brains and use our internal resources to find solutions?

S-T-R-E-T-C-H and not MORE

In one of the organisations that I worked; we would have an annual exercise to plan out our resources. And invariably, every function would come up with the need/demand for more resources – be it money, time, manpower, or access to information. The solution to better outcomes and more productivity as we think, lies in having ‘more’ and ‘more’ of what we already have.

According to Scott Sonenshein, an organisational psychologist and the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at Rice University, Houston, Texas, we have been approaching the stretch principal the wrong way. The right question to ask is ‘how do we make better use of the resources that we already have’. In a way, Scott advocates ‘stretching of resources’ to find solutions rather than clamoring for additional resources.

Chasing a mirage

The field of communications and PR is a minefield of chasing targets, networks, stakeholders and deadlines. Literally. Everyone is on the run. But hold on, in our chase, are we actually depleting our energies and going nowhere great? Think about it. What if the chase stopped? We would first of all, stop comparing our work or media outreach or stakeholder engagement with our competitors and/or the world outside.

‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ – so said, the later US President Theodore Roosevelt. Healthy comparison may be good but most often than not, comparison between the haves and have-nots is unhealthy. Hikers know this theory the best. They are trained to ‘hike your own hike’, which means, find your own space, time and path. Do not compare is their moto! For they know that it won’t get them far.

Look within

When comparing, we always look at what we do not have…what if were to instead reframe this attitude and look within and search for the resources that we already have? This calls for us to relook at our resources with a new mindset and explore other options that we can use that resource for.

For instance, doing a press release is a standard media-outreach plan that many communicators and PR agencies swear by. The resources you have here are your excellent media outreach/network and the worthiness of your news. What if you were to relook at what could be done with these two resources? You would be surprised at the alternate options you arrive at. Or what, if you were to work with a cross functional team and come up with a new way of designing that media outreach? You would be amazed at the options that come up because of the presence of a diverse team with varied work experiences. Their thinking is bound to be different!

Our brain by default thinks of the simplest and most predictable first response. it’s probably what you think of always. Pause and reflect. You can always find alternatives and news ways of doing the task. The resources are the same, the solution can be different!

Make s-t-r-e-t-c-h your mantra for 2023 and see the difference!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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