Mental Fitness…and GAINS

I had two “A-HA” moments the other day from one of our Extension Agents. Jana Anderson, Family Consumer Sciences Agent here at UF/IFAS Extension Orange County, was teaching our team about personal wellness and challenging us to be more active and to be conscious of what our body is telling us. There were two things that she told us that I would like to expand on, but in a different vein:

First, she talked to us about flexibility fitness. One of her college professors always told her class that they should always be flexible. Secondly, she instructed us about lifting weights, or using resistance bands, to strengthen muscle. By strengthening the muscles, you are causing small tears in the muscle, which the body repairs and as a result, the muscles grow (also called hypertrophy).

Although she was speaking on fitness, I believe these two topics can relate to leadership or in this case, mental fitness.

Being Flexible. There are many times in our careers and personal lives that we need to be flexible. I had arrived at a location to deliver a presentation with my flash drive in hand and come to find out the computer was not working. Being flexible allowed me to have a candid conversation about community gardens and had much more of an impact than my PowerPoint. COVID-19 pushed us Extension professionals to be more flexible. How were we going to deliver programs or workshops when we cannot meet people? The answer is that we innovated and revised our plans to overcome the challenge in front of us, while still accomplishing our goals. Change is always occurring around us and by being nimble and adapting to it (ultimately accepting it in a positive way), we can often achieve our goals.

Tear and Repair. I have been thrown under the bus in my career and it is not a good feeling. I felt that all my hard work was for naught, and I felt alone. Nonetheless, there was work to do and I needed to keep my head up and repair trust and failure. This is a huge step to move forward, understand, and get stronger. Sometimes we fail at a program or project; sometimes we fail at a relationship; sometimes we fail with a partnership, but it is the aftermath that really counts. Instead of getting wrapped in the weeds of what went wrong, we really need to work the problem, focus on what went right and how that can strengthen our weak areas. We learn. We repair. We get stronger.

Being flexible and open to build upon weaknesses is tough and the doubt is high. We only get better by mental fitness. Adapting, innovating and being open to change keeps us flexible, and recalibrating and reinforcing ourselves and programs to be stronger keeps us sharp. Now, grab your water and get to moving.

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Posted: June 1, 2022


Category: Agriculture, Community Volunteers, Natural Resources, Professional Development, UF/IFAS Extension, Work & Life
Tags: Communication, Leadership, Mental Health, Professional Development


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