How do sore muscles relate to leadership?

One morning last week at the end of a particularly hard Group Fitness class, the instructor asked us who felt sore (me!), and who thought they would be sore tomorrow (me again!).

She explained that when we work to our current fitness level, we leave the class feeling good, and that’s the level we remain at. She demonstrated this by punching her fist into her open palm.

She contrasted this by the pushing her fist into and past her palm, illustrating that when we push through our current fitness level we further develop and extend our fitness. Sore muscles the next day are okay!

This makes sense to me from a leadership development perspective. I have been recently been pushing my skills past my current ‘fitness level’ in speaking. If I play to my current game, I finish a workshop or presentation feeling good, and yet I have missed an opportunity to develop. When I try out new things sometimes I feel a little ‘sore’ afterwards, and the benefit is a greater fitness level for next time.

This is about stepping out of your ‘comfort zone’ and into the ‘learning zone’.

I love receiving emails from clients telling me how they have pushed their boundaries – a challenging conversation with a new CEO, trying a new communication style to engage a group, being boldly you in an interview, addressing poor performance head on, exposing the elephants in a team… That’s one of the benefits of coaching – you are held accountable to a higher game standard.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr said ‘Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.’ What will you to today to develop and extend your leadership fitness? And are you willing to be a little sore afterwards?