Adopting a Stretch Mindset

Ever feel like you are just grateful to survive and get through to whatever will be beyond this? If so, we know how you feel. The omicron variant of COVID-19 has wreaked challenges on people, homes, work, and working patterns. Coming at the end of the second year of the pandemic—being and staying well and preserving what is most important to each of us—have been challenging priorities enough.
Almost two years into the pandemic, superficially life is much changed. Masks, disrupted vacations and restaurant plans, and mass immunization efforts have become part of the norm. Yet, the effects of the pandemic on our beliefs and behaviour are also worth scrutinizing.

Many of us have learned we can get by well with less in our lives.

For us that’s been fewer trips out, away, or abroad. Less stuff. Fewer social engagements on weekends or evenings. This allowed us to prioritize more time for other things that are important to us, but somehow previously got lost in the daily tyranny of things to do. To walk, engage with nature, exercise daily, listen to more music, and renovate/redecorate our homes. Despite all the difficult and negative parts of the pandemic, these have provided solace and energy to help see us to here.

More than this, we learned that we can live well even without some of the things we used to depend on.

In this month’s remarkable resource, we share about a mindset that can help us to understand and continue on this journey. “Stretch,” by Scott Sonenshein explains why some people come to believe implicitly that success can only come through having, spending, or doing more (the “chase mindset”), while others are better able to focus down on what matters most—irrespective of all the noise, competition, and distractions (the “stretch mindset”).

In these difficult times, remember: academic work is never just about the work itself but is fundamentally shaped by our perceptions, which in turn can open whole new worlds of possibility, opportunity, positive emotions, and personal fulfilment.

We hope your own stretch mindset will take you in good directions. While many of us simply can’t do more—we can always reconnect to what matters most to us and start to act accordingly.


Stretch: Unlock the power of less and achieve more than you ever imagined

by Scott Sonenshein

Time, money, software, other people, yourself. All are precious resources that can be used to meet academic work goals for teaching or research.

Ever wondered why some people’s solutions to problems always seem to be about acquiring more people, money, time, or other resources? Conversely, faced with the same challenge or problem—other people can seem to get more out of what they have already via creativity, refocusing, re-organizing, strategizing, or simply stopping doing things altogether.

In the video below, Scott Sonenshein explains why our mindsets—stretch versus chase—hold the vital clues for how we see and what we do in response to some of life and work’s biggest challenges. Read his book to understand how you can better grow and harness your stretch mindset.


  • In difficult circumstances, people with “stretch” mindsets seek to add value. They prioritize doing more with any resources that they can access. They seek to use what they have better because they view resources as changeable, versatile, and expandable. They work to better untap the true value of what they already have. To meet their goals, they are less prone to looking or copying how others approach or use resources.
  • In difficult circumstances, people with “chase” mindsets seek to acquire more. They prioritize seeking new resources via conventional pathways, even if this comes at a high cost to themselves. They under-estimate the value of their existing resources because they view resources as fixed. They work to seek and get new resources. To meet their goals, due to social comparison, they are prone to using resources in the same ways they see others do.
  • To better meet your goals, even when resources are plentiful, it is useful to adopt a stretch mindset.


  • When you last faced a major problem in your academic work, did you adopt a stretch or chase mindset? Which was more dominant and how do you know?
  • Which mindsets (stretch or chase) are more dominant in others in your academic workplace? Which are more common in academic working cultures?
  • What can you prioritize going forward to grow your stretch mindset and better realize the value to your goals of the precious resources you already have?