Are You Your Own Bottleneck?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I’ve been recovering from a yearlong case of Plantar Fasciitis.  As a runner, this is not the injury you want to have; not that any injury is good; however, plantar fasciitis is notorious for lasting a long time.  My case has been no different.   I have been a distance runner for 20 years and, truth be told, I never stretched.  Well, yes, maybe before and after the occasional race but that was rare.  For someone who regularly ran 30 miles per week, stretching probably should have been at the top of my list of things to do, but it wasn’t and, as my doctor, physical therapists, and running coach have all said to me, it’s amazing I wasn’t injured sooner.

Plantar Fasciitis is often a direct result of tight hamstrings, calves, and Achilles.  This is not uncommon as many athletic injuries are a result of one part of the body being too tight so other parts tend to compensate for the tight area and hence, get injured.  I am now finally getting back to running again and not only do I recognize the importance of having flexible hamstrings, calves and Achilles but also am almost obsessed with ensuring everything is flexible so all parts of my body can operate smoothly without creating any bottlenecks of blood flow or movement.

I recently related my body flexibility story to a client who has let the inflexibility of her mind impact her ability to achieve some important business goals.  This client has been focused on growing her business in a new area and had a very specific plan in place on how this growth would occur.  In fact, she has had several other opportunities for business growth presented to her but ignored them because they do not fit in with the original plan of how she intends for her business to grow.  From my perspective, this inflexibility of her thoughts is hindering her business growth.  Because she won’t open her mind to the idea of growth in a different way, a way other than her own plan, she is stopping the flow of opportunity and creating a bottleneck in her business development.   Because she is so committed to the plan she initially put in place, she couldn’t see how her inflexibility of thought was hindering her business growth.  When I shared the story of my own muscle inflexibility creating a huge bottleneck in my body’s ability to perform effectively and run injury free, I could see the expression on her face change… she got it.

Just as we create hindrances and prevent things from flowing smoothly with our bodies due to tight muscles (think about how awkwardly you walk when you can really feel a tight hamstring or calf muscle), we do the same things with our minds.  When we get fixated on how we think something should work out or how we should achieve the goal we’ve set for ourselves or our businesses, we close ourselves off to seeing other opportunities or, perhaps even better ways to achieve the goals we’ve set.  When we keep our thoughts and minds open and flexible to the infinite number of ways our goals can be reached, we are much more likely to not only achieving them more quickly but we also save ourselves a lot of frustration.

Our minds, like our bodies, need to be kept flexible so things can flow smoothly and we can experience more ease in our lives.  Had I known where I’d end up after running 20 years without stretching, without keeping every inch of my body limber, I guarantee you I’d have stretched and been the most flexible runner there every was. It’s the same with our mindset and our thoughts – keep them flexible so you are open to the unexpected ways that life will offer you goodness and opportunity.  Don’t be your own bottleneck.

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