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Are You Stretching Yourself?

First StepsA question was asked of me this morning: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” At first I was taken aback. My crazy internal processes kicked in and my thoughts were, “what is she seeing about me that would make her ask this question? How can I make sure she knows I’m AWESOME!” So, I answered that I’m doing new things all the time.

To an extent, it’s true. There are quite a few things I’ve done recently that are firsts for me. I am providing consulting to a company in a way I’ve never done before. Rena and I are leading a webinar series that we’ve not done before. I recently created content for a technical training that I’ve not done before.

However, when I looked more closely, all of these “first” things are similar or related to things I’ve done already. Even for the near future, I’m planning on interviewing some folks for our book. I’ve never done this before, but I have interviewed job applicants.

So, I’m stretching myself, but I’m still playing it safe in how far I am stretching in each event.

The Question

Today, I’d like to ask you the same question, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”

If we can’t remember the last time, maybe we want to look at this. One of our basic human needs is to have a variety of new experiences. Have you ever heard someone say, “I feel like I’m stuck in a rut?” This person is telling you they need some new experiences.

Even if the last new experience you had was was a long time ago, think back to that time, and you will probably remember feeling vibrant and excited. You were telling everybody about it. For example, “I water skied for the first time. I can’t believe I actually got up and skied, after falling down five times.”

Stretch

In addition to meeting a basic need, trying out new things stretches us. We grow as a person. Our self-confidence goes up. We form new connections in our brain. We can draw on these stretch experiences, even if seemingly unrelated, and use them in new situations.

More importantly, if we don’t feel like we are living our calling or making the impact in the world that we want, we probably new some more ‘firsts’ in our life. We’ll need some ‘firsts’ as we step into new roles, new tasks, and new personal qualities so that we can be living our calling and making our splash in the world.

There are two ways to stretch ourself. One method is to extend. The other is to leap. As I looked at my own examples of stretching, I’m extending. I’m leveraging my past experiences to create new ones. My new experiences have some aspect that is similar to a past experience. This stretches but does so conservatively.

The other way to stretch ourself is to leap. This would be where we leap into a completely new experience that has no grounding in a past experience. For me, this might be something like taking a martial arts class, or dance lessons. For you it will likely be something different.

I think I am foreseeing dancing or martial arts in my near future. Oh, boy. That’s a stretch.

So, what about you? When was the last time you did something for the first time? Tell us about it.

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