Fish have always fascinated me – not only are the edible ones tasty, but it is also such a relaxing and particularly interesting experience to go down to the local aquarium in Cape Town to view what one does not normally have the opportunity of seeing in their “natural” environment, unless you are a regular diver. The aquarium teaches one to appreciate and protect the marine bio-diversity and coastal areas and gain respect for our natural resources.

Not all interesting fish species are to be found in the sea, however, as many fresh-water critters are equally fascinating. One of these fresh-water fascinators is the Koi, actually nishikigoi, the brocaded carp of Japan.  In Japanese, koi is a homophone for another word that means “affection” or “love” and so the fish have become symbols of love and friendship in Japan. One of the most interesting facts regarding this fish, however, is its growing potential – if you keep a koi in a small fish bowl, it will only grow to be 7 – 9 centimetres long. Place the koi in a larger tank or small pond and it will reach 25 centimetres. Put it in a large pond and it may grow to be 48 centimetres long. When placed in a large lake where it can easily stretch out, however, it has the potential to reach a metre in length!

The growing potential of the human being can likewise be related to the size of a person’s world – not the world’s measurable dimensions, but the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual opportunities to which the person is exposed. Usually, the expectation is that others should provide this for one – make us complete by giving us context for growth. Although this obviously assists one with one’s growth passage, we need to realise that real growth comes from the inside and not the outside. We need to come to the realisation that unless we expand who we are, we’ll always have what we’ve got.

People are intrinsically made to grow, to expand in all dimensions – not to stagnate, but to stretch, perhaps ending up with results that even exceed one’s initial expectations. I call this “A – E” stretch. “A – B” is so boring and requires little or no thinking, small amounts of energy and minimal interaction with others, and subsequently a result producing no real satisfaction. “A – E” people dynamics requires “out-of-the-box” thinking, energy focused appropriately and a deep desire to leave an impact. It demands a willingness to listen, to find value in the opinions of others, to be open to change and to move out of comfort zones. It requires “stretch”!

Stretching to your full length is critical in terms of success. An elastic band serves no real purpose in an un-stretched state, however, it does reach its real potential when stretched almost to the limit – the potential of holding things together and binding them tightly. People, also, are most impactful when stretched – stretching yourself will make a difference. It will assist you in stretching to your full length.

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