Five Stretches to Help You Grow

In this episode, John Maxwell teaches five ways that leaders need to stretch themselves in order to grow. He sets up this lesson by teaching the Law of the Rubber Band, which says, “Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you can be.”

Mark Cole is joined by Traci Morrow for the application portion of the episode to discuss the areas of their lives they’ve had to take out of “automatic” and how their roles as leaders have required them to stretch their perspectives.

Our BONUS resource for this episode is the Five Stretches to Help You Grow Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:           Hey, welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast! We are so excited to bring you into a conversation today that John just gave called, “Five Stretches to Help You Grow”. In this lesson, John's going to introduce the Law of the Rubber Band, which states growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you can be. Now, you're getting ready to hear John now, when John is done, my friend your friend, Traci Morrow is here to co-host with me and we're looking forward to giving you application that will make a difference. If you want to download the worksheet, you can go to, click the “Bonus Resource” button and you will be able to follow along as John teaches. Now, here is John C. Maxwell!

John Maxwell:      Hi, John Maxwell here. I'm so glad to be with you today and to teach another lesson that, kind of, I don't know, encourages us, helps us to, you know, just cope with what's happening in our world right now, and even more than cope, helps us to get in front of our people and lead them in a correct way. And as I was thinking about the lesson I want to do with you today, if you watch Minute with Maxwell, if you watch it in April and May this month, every time you turn on, I do what I call a Stretch Statement, which is pretty much a quote from some pretty famous person usually, that just helps us to kind of get through the dark days and the tough, you know, the uphill climb; and as I was thinking about the Minute with Maxwell, I thought to myself, “I want to do something that's not on Minute with Maxwell at all, but I want to give you some Stretch Statements in teaching, okay? And the reason that I do that is because, really, when we are in the middle of what we're in right now the question is, are we going to stretch and go to something and towards something? Or, are we going to shrink? Are we going to pull back? Are we going to keep turning around and looking behind us instead of looking at what is before us? And I would encourage you, if you haven't been watching Minute with Maxwell, you can get that very easily. It's only a minute or maybe a minute and a half on the Stretch Statements, but I made this statement to you before, I'm coming back to it because it just fits this lesson so well and that is that Jack Canfield statement that everything that you want that you don't have right now it's because it's outside of your comfort zone, because if we wanted it and it was inside of our comfort zone we’d go get it. And so, everything that I want in my life, everything that you want in your life, and you don't have it right now, it's because it's outside of your comfort zone and you and I haven't yet said, “I'm willing to get out of that comfort zone to get it. I'm willing to pay whatever that price is to lift that lid.” Well, again, the Coronavirus has taking everybody out of their comfort zone. There's not any question about that, but on the Stretch Statements today, I really want us to go big here for a little bit, and to help you I’ll tell a quick story of last year, we were—I can't remember whether it's in Guatemala or Costa Rica, but we were on one of our transformation trips and I had some business people with me. I love to take them with me on these trips and kind of show and let them just see how we're transforming leaders and the whole process of how we do it, and it's always very exciting. And so, when I'm finished with those trips, I always gather them together., and we just have a dinner together and I just basically say, you know, “Give me your thoughts. You've been here with me now. Talk to me.” And it's always very inspiring to listen to them talk about the things that they've learned and the things that they experienced, and it's always a very high energy positive environment. Casey Crawford was with us on this trip, and of course, he founded Movement Mortgage, I think they are the sixth largest mortgage company in America. And so, when it came to Casey's time, he just leaned into me and he said, “John, for right now, I just have one word, and the word is more. That's the word, just more.” And later on that day, he caught me, and we had a little bit of private time and he said, “John, I don't know what more means, but here's what I do know, it's more than everything we've seen on this trip. It's more than any vision that you've ever had, more time, more resources, more people help. It's just bigger than you could ever imagine your life.” And what Casey did in that five to seven-minute private conversation is he stretched me. He stretched me because I thought, “I've got a pretty big vision for transformation.” I mean, if you want to transform a country, that's not a small vision, and yet Casey's looking at me, and he just gives me—he didn't even give me a Stretch Statement, he gave me a stretch word, he just said more, and he said, “You and I are going to figure out over the next couple of years what that means, but I'm going to go with you, and we're going to make it happen together, and we're going to experience more than we could have ever imagined.” I swear, I want your mind and your heart to just kind of embrace this thought of maybe today, just stretching yourself a little bit more than you have in any other time. In my, 15 Laws of Growth book, one of the laws is the Law of the Rubber Band, and the Law of the Rubber Band just simply says, “Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you can be.” And it's all about the rubber band and the fact that the value of a rubber band is that it’s stretched. If you don't stretch a rubber band, there's no value to it to anybody. Nobody ever took a rubber band in its original form and said, “This is very valuable to me.” No, no, it has to be stretched around something to hold it together. It's the stretching that makes the rubber band valuable. We have taken our kids and our grandchildren out to Park City just sometimes, and just out to Colorado some too also for skiing trips. We were out there and we were having our dinner, when we go on a trip like this we have dinner together every night and so we had a nice, you know, Maxwell family dinner and when they came to sit down at their table, at each place set it was the rubber band, different sizes, different colors, you know, the whole deal. So, I gave them the Law of the Rubber Band and I basically gave them a two minute talk on stretching and I said, “Why don't we just put the rubber band around our wrist, and tomorrow while we're snowboarding, skiing, having a good time, let's look at that rubber band and realize that we have to, you know, we need to continually be stretched if we're going to be useful.” And Ella, who at that time was about 14, she put the rubber band around her wrist and the next night at the dinner table she came and she had two rubber bands around her wrist I said, “Ella, what happened to you?” She said, “Well, literally, I went out to ski today,” and she said, “I saw a rubber band in the snow, and I reached down and picked it up, I put it on my wrist Pop,” and she said, “The only thing I can think of is that I need to expand twice as much as the other kids, and I just need to stretch twice as much as I possibly can.” And I gave her a hug and I loved it because it was an application of our need to be stretched. My friend Chris Hodges talks about the “vision gap”, and I like this a lot, it says, “It's the gap between what I'm doing and what I could do.” Well the gap between what I'm doing and what I could do, it's a stretch. And I'm going to talk to you now, very simply, about some stretch statements that are just going to help you just kind of expand yourself just a little bit, and I want to say to you, as we're thinking of these Stretching Statements, you never leave something, you go to something, you just go to something. And the people that are wanting to go back to normal or, “Why are we going to return back to normal?” To be honest with you, that basically they're saying, “I'd like to go back to my comfort zone.” And those who are saying, “Wait, wait, there's going to be a new normal and I could hardly wait to see what that looks like, and I don't know, I don't understand it yet, but I'm going to explore it and I'm going to make the best use of it, they’re in that stretchy period.

So here are some stretch statements. Hang on. Let's go! Number one, there's what I call the “growth stretch”, and the growth stretch, here's the phrase for that, if you're in a growing stretch in your life, here's a statement you say often, “There is a better way.” And I just absolutely love that statement! “There is a better way.” Here's what I mean by that, I think I'm doing nothing in my life today that cannot be improved. I'm known as a communicator, but can I tell you something? When I'm done communicating there is a better way. I think I'm a good leader, but when I'm finished leading someone through a project, can I tell you something? There is a better way, I always believed there's a better way, and in the crisis that moves us, what are we doing? We're taking detours, I've talked about this, the fact what makes it a crisis is we can't do the same thing, go down the same road, get to the same destination with the same speed. All of a sudden, we're dead ends and detours and we thought we were going over here but we can't get there and detours for a person like me who is kind of bottom line, get to it as quickly as you can, very frustrating. But I'm going to tell you right now, take the detour tour. And not only take the detour tour, maximize the detour tour, because you're going to see things you haven't seen, you're going to experience places you've never experienced before. In other words, take it all in, because I promise you, some of the things you're going to see and some of the things that you're going to experience, you honestly, if you're going after it in a positive way, you're going to find that there's a there's a better way out of it. And so, when people say to themselves, “Well, you know, when are we going to get back to normal or back to our comfort zone?” There's a better question than, “When are we going to get back to normal?” The question is, hey, hang on, now, here it is. Here's the question. “Why should I go back to normal? Who said normal was the best way? It's just the way that I'm comfortable with.” And I can promise you, if I get moved out of the old normal, it's only because the new normal has possibilities that the old one doesn’t. I'm going to read you something that I just picked up a couple of days ago from Abraham Maslow, of course you know him in the Maslow Order Needs, that we all studied at Psychology at college. Here we go, here's what he said, “The most important learning lessons that I've ever had in my life that you'll ever have in your life, the most important learning lessons came out of tragedies, deaths, trauma. Our most important learning lessons have come out of times when we were forced, not when we willingly, when we were forced to change.” And he said, “Which, as we were forced to change, our life outlook became incredibly different.” Well, you know, Abraham’s just telling you and me that that growth stretch tells us that there's always a better way, but most of the time, we don't find a better way until we get on the detour tour, and then we find it. So, here's what I believe about improvement and growth in the stretching, and that I’m talking about, here's what I believe, I believe that everyone can improve, I believe you can, I believe I can. I believe that everything can be improved. I don't think there's anything that I'm doing today that doesn't have more capacity and potential than what I'm getting out of it. So, everyone can be improved, everything can be improved. And thirdly, every day has improvement possibilities. If I go into every day with the mindset, “This is a day that I'm going to be able to improve myself, I'm going to improve the things I do.” If every day has improvement possibilities mindset, I am going to have that growth stretch that I really want to have in my life. I want it for you, I want it for me. That's the first growth statement. The second growth statement is what I call the “creative stretch”, and the creative stretch just simply says to you and me, “There's always an answer.” And usually, what the creative stretch says to us is there’s not always an answer, but there's usually more than one answer, and the number one characteristic of a creative person, isn't the fact that they're just incredibly creative and artistic, the number one DNA of anybody that's creative is that they believe that there is another answer somewhere out there. And they have that curiosity and that passion and that bet to find out what that answer is. And where is the answer? Okay, we've already talked about it, but we'll do it one more time. Where's the answer? It's almost always outside of our comfort zone. So, you know, during this crisis, the question I have for you and me is, what am I learning right now that I didn't know before the crisis? What are you learning right now that you didn't know before the crisis? And what am I doing? What are you doing right now that we didn’t do before the crisis? Okay, you know, what do I know? How am I changing? And the answer is, for me, is it's incredible! I am so grateful for this crisis because I’m just learning that I have left margins out of my life and because I've left margins out of my life, I haven't always had the best life and it's just been a wonderful thing for me to have a little time to not be traveling as much. Honestly, I always use the excuse for my health, is the fact that I traveled and had a heavy schedule, and by the way, anybody who travels a lot knows that it's a bare to keep on top of your health when you travel and have the schedule that I've had but, you know, I got rid of my travel excuse, so, I said, “Okay, I'm going to exercise. I'm going to eat right.” You know, the worst excuse is a good excuse. I dropped that one, and so, in the last five and six weeks I've been intentionally trying to exercise three hours a day. Now, that's not possible in a regular routine. I know that. Three hours, that's too much time. But I have enough time now that I can pretty much average three hours and so I walk every day, I swim every day, I jump on my rebounder every day, and do 73 pushups every day. And just the other day, you know, Mark and I, in Las Vegas, about a year and a half ago, we did a half marathon just the other day, I did another half marathon! And, Mark, you weren't with me, buddy, I did it all myself, which was huge, because when you're with me, the last three miles you just kept me going. In fact, Vegas one, if you wouldn’t have been with me, I don't think I would have finished. I think I would just had given up, but I couldn't give up because you wouldn’t let me, and you know what's worse than not finishing the races? stopping and getting your butt kicked. But the point was I did it. In fact, I did it. I thought to myself, you know what? I think I could do two consecutive days of half marathons. I think I may try that before the month’s over. I think I could do two days at 13.1 miles. I just think I could do it. In fact, in the last six days, I've done 42 miles. So, I'm doing okay. But the point being, I'm losing weight, I'm feeling better. But here's what I'm saying, again, this whole creative stretch, what am I doing on my detour that's allowed me to stretch creatively? Let me talk to you about the third stretch for a moment, and that's the intentional stretch. And the intentional stretch just very simply says that the statement is, “Intentional living is the bridge between intentions and actions.” And you've heard me talk about intentional living a lot and the fact that good intentions are overrated, and they are. And what intentional living does, it takes me from good intentions, obviously, to good actions. It's the old John Wooden saying to his team when he was coaching UCLA, and he said, “John, I didn't want to pick the captain of the team until the third or fourth game, because I didn't want to captain with just the captain name and position I wanted the captain be deserving, and I wanted to see it in a tight game, which one of my players wanted that ball and would take that responsibility.” He said, “That's got to be my cap. In other words, I wanted a little bit of time there.” Here's what happens in a crisis, it takes us out of automatic because what—comfort zone, if I could describe comfort zone in one word, it would be automatic. We like being in a zone where we don't have to really think much, and we can just kind of let life happen, and we just go through all the motions, and we don't have to strategize. It's just pretty well, we've been there, done that, kind of a process. So, the other day as I was getting ready for this lesson, I just wrote down what I thought automatic meant and what I'm about to give you, these are not good things but I think when a person's automatic here's what I think: a person that loves automatic, they love easy. Automatic’s easy. If you're in automatic, you won't initiate. People that are automatic, they're not looking to start something. In fact, start something we’d get them out of automatic, it would get them out of their comfort zone. Hey, if you're on automatic, you lack focus. You don't need to focus. It's automatic. If you're in automatic guess what? You missed opportunities. Why are you missing them? Because you aren’t looking for them! Why would you look for them? I mean, you're in automatic. If you're in automatic you never change. In fact, that's part of the thing you don't want to do. You don't want to change. If you're an automatic, you reduce your curiosity, you know, why be curious? Again, I might find something out there that I don't know. If you're in automatic, you won't stretch. If you're in automatic, you lack energy. Everybody that’s in automatic, they just basically, again, you can't—it's automatic. They don't have to push up hill. Automatic isn't contagious, there's nothing contagious about somebody in their comfort zone. I've never known somebody that looked at someone else in their comfort zone said, “Wow. I'd like to go there myself.” If you're in automatic, don't have to think. Wow. So, the question is on this stretch is what will I take out of automatic in my life and become intentional with it? Again, it goes back to the fact that if I've been in automatic, if I'm going to that intentional lifestyle, what am I going to take out of automatic? And I think this crisis has been so good for us, because I think it's for some of us, you know what we're doing? We're taking out of automatic our senses of entitlement that, “This is, you know, kind of should be mine.” And we're becoming more grateful. I think we're taking out of automatic, a sense of, “I've got answers.” And have an arrogance about us, and we're beginning to pick up humility. I think we're taking out of automatic the whole, “It's all about me.” And selfishness, and I think that we're beginning to embrace good values. So, it's this is a good thing. There's an intentional stretch that allows us, again, to really focus on where we're going and who we could be.

Number four is what I call the thinking stretch. The thinking stretch, the statement I want to give you there is the fact is, the greatest gap in life is the thinking gap and how people think. And so, because I'm at home and I'm in my office, I'm going to show you a book, I'm holding up right here and it's called The Magic Power of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. Now, you know, you've heard me talk about the fact that my father paid me to read books, and this is one of the books, I read this book in the in the 10th grade, sophomore year. In fact, this book cost…give me a second, I may have to get my glasses here. This book cost…yeah, a dollar. This was a dollar book so that tells you how old I am right here. So, in my office, I have a couple sections of my bookshelf that's dedicated to the space of books that have changed my life. And so, what I was thinking about the thinking stretch, I pulled this book out because this was the first book I read, that really made me “rubber band” my thinking and stretch my thinking way, way out of my comfort zone. And so, I started going through this the other day, and I under lined in this book, over a hundred thoughts. Now, in this book on The Magic Power of Thinking Big, this is huge. Here's what here's what he says on page 75, “Capacity is a state of mind. How much we can do depends on how much we think we can do. When you really believe that you can do more your mind thinks creatively and shows you the way.” That is so powerful. We all know that this thinking stretches is just absolutely life changing. And, you know, sometime if I'll teach this because it's so powerful. The shared thinking and sustained thinking, it’ll changed your life, because we overestimate and overrate smart thinking; and shared thinking, when you and I share ideas what happens out of that always is better thinking because you get different perspectives. And sustained thinking gives you deeper thinking, and what I'm just saying to you is during this time of crisis, you know, get with people, colleagues, and share your thoughts, and I promise you, you'll get some ideas. I was just on a Zoom call with Mark with a company that we work with, right before this call, and Mark took about 15 minutes with that company, and just shared with him some of the things that he had learned about social media and what to do with conferences right now, and I'm not doing any talking, I'm just listening to Mark and he's just phenomenal what he's saying to them. And the CEO of the company, he's just writing down notes. I mean, Mark gave him a half a dozen really good thoughts, ideas. But let me tell you something, as we interacted there were five of us on that call, on that Zoom call, as we interacted, our ideas got better. We made each other—you see, shared thinking makes your idea better, and sustained thinking makes your idea deeper. You know, you drive deep, and you go wide, it's a powerful thing. So, in this thinking stretch, especially, the moment that I look at where I am and what's happening to me, and I say to myself, “I'm not going to allow the thinking of most people.” In fact, when the virus started, there was a statement I had to be careful making because it sounded very unsympathetic, and I didn't mean it that way, but just because it's raining on your parade doesn't mean I'm going to let it rain on my parade. Now listen very carefully, I'm going to contextualize that now because there's been a lot of tragedy, we know that. Here's what that means, I'm not going to allow your thinking, which is probably scarcity, negative, full of fear, I'm not going to let your thinking invade my mind at all. I don't have to. I choose to reframe the situation I’m in. You see, I don't deny the situation I'm in, I just reframe it. In fact, I hope you can be with me in our next week's lesson, because in the next week's lesson, I'm going to talk about courage, and I’m going to talk about courage to continue. Because you see, there's two types of courage, there's a courage that I do for the moment and, “Wow! That was a courageous act you just did.” And then there's the courage that I do for weeks and months. Because the issue doesn't go away. And the courage to continue on in that process is just absolutely essential to my success and is essential to your success. And I'm going to talk about that next week. But the point being, that in courage and in our thinking, I'm not about to allow what the news media or other people are saying about our situation, to control how I think about our situation and what I do about the situation. Not denying reality, but the same sense, I'm reframing. I'm going to talk to you about, how do you reframe the picture next week, so that you can see it realistically, but the same sense, you can also see it in a creative way, and be courageous in that process, okay? Now, the thinking stretch is just a huge stretch. In fact, there's one other quote out of this book on David Swartz, I want to give you too and then I got to get you another stretch real quickly, and that is, here we go, “Where success is concerned people are not measured in inches or pounds or college degrees or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking.” So, the stretch statements I've given you first of all, the growth stretch, which says there's a better way. There's the creative stretch that says there's always an answer. There's the intentional stretch, which says intentional living is the bridge between intentions and actions. And then, there's a thinking stretch which says the greatest gap is how people think.

The last stretch I want to give you as the perspective stretch, and the perspective stretch basically says there is no finish line. It's a big picture, stretch. It looks beyond, when is the Coronavirus going to be over? When are we going to have a vaccine? It's a big picture stretch. There is no finish line. It's Simon Sinek and The Infinite Game book. It's allowing you to soar above other people's thinking and other people's actions, and really have a perspective that is different than others, because how we view things is how we do things. And I've shared, so I'm not going to go in length in this lesson, but I've shared how when I was in my twenties when I heard Earl Nightingale talk about if you'll just spend one hour a day, every day on the same subject, in five years you become an expert on it. I decided to do that with leadership, and when I started that process, I had a finish line mindset. How long will it take? How long will it take? How long will it take? But the change that happened within me, about halfway through the process I went from, how long will it take? How far can I go? How long will it take? How long is the Coronavirus going to last? How long will it take? That a finish line mindset. How far can I go? There is no finish line, and that's the perspective stretch. And so, let me just kind of lay this out for you really quickly, and then I'm done. How long will it take, is goal focused, how far can I go, is growth focused. How long will it take, emphasis deadlines and how far can I go, emphasizes development. How long will it take, is limited to time but how far can I go, is not limited to time. When I say how long will it take? I'm basically saying there's not much more I can do. How far can I go? I say there's so much more that I can do. You see, the how long will it take, finish line mindset basically says that whatever I'm doing is not bigger than me. The how far can I go mindset is saying, everything I do is bigger than me. In fact, when we talk about bucket list, I have a bucket list, I bet every one of you have a bucket list. If I'm asking how long will it take? Can I tell you something about my bucket list? If I stay with it, I'll check every one of those things off, and I’ll finish my bucket list. But if I have a perspective that there's no finish line, guess what? My bucket list never gets finished. Yeah, because can I tell you something about this perspective? It's bigger than a bucket list and let me tell you something else about this perspective, it's bigger than me. And what that means is, I get to play a game that is bigger than me for stakes that are bigger than me, for life change that difference is bigger than me. And now all of a sudden, when I look at COVID-19 all of a sudden, when I'm looking where I am right now, although I see the issues, I see beyond the issues. I have a farther look than just, when will this be finished? My look right now is the fact that some time it will be finished. The question is not when is COVID-19 going to be over? The question is, how am I growing during COVID-19? So that when it is over, I'm better than then I am now. That's the question! Is my business going to be better afterwards because I got creative? And I began to marshal my leaders, my people together and say, “Hey, this is an opportunity for us to go to a whole new level.” That's the question! The question is not, “Hey, when the COVID-19 is over…” What we don't want to say is we got so wrapped up in it that we were over. We were bigger than that. Our perspective was much broader, higher, longer, further, than that. So those are five stretch statements. Here's what I know, when I did the lesson, on every one of them, I asked myself, “Is this stretching me? Am I getting better because I'm having this perspective stretch or this thinking stretch? Am I improving because of these stretch statements?” Well, I'm doing my best, but you know what's even more important to me? Not only that I'm doing my best to stretch, it's just as important to me that you are too, and that's the reason we come to you every week. Just to stretch you and make you a little bit bigger, and a little bit better. You know, I've talked one other time and I just want to share with you in closing today that one of my greatest joys is the coaching company that I have, because we really equip people, we put them in leadership lanes, speaking lanes, entrepreneurial lanes, coaching lanes, we have an organization that just makes people a lot better. And so, if you just go to, that's it, just coach with me, If you just go to it, we have a webinar, you can just find out a little bit more about what we're doing and join the, you know, just join. Many people, we have 33,000 coaches around the world. So, come and see what we can do to help equip you so that when you get through this crisis, you'll even be better equipped than you had before. Anyway, it's been good to be with you! Thanks for just letting me share from my heart. I love you. I believe in you, and I want only the best for you, because my name is John, and I'm your friend.

Mark:                    Hey, well, welcome back podcast listeners! Man, I love this topic, “Five Stretches to Help You Grow”! Traci, I'm so glad that we're co-hosting this particular lesson. I love every time you're here, our podcast listeners love it. But I love this one, “Five Stretches to Help You Grow”, because, Traci, I remember the first time that I used the word Traci Morrow and a cuss word in the same sentence.

Traci Morrow:      The first time?

Mark:                    The first time! I'm not saying the last time, but the first time I was doing P90X in a hotel room with a bunch of stretch bands, and I went, “How does that girl keep smiling and doing all of these stretches, all of these exercises?” so I'm extremely interested today to hear your thoughts when you heard John say, “Five stretches to help you grow.”

Traci:                    I was like, “Alright, this is going to be an exercise I'm going to thrive in!” Because stretching is a part—for those of you don't know, I run a health coaching business, and hearing about the stretching of leadership is just such a great analogy, because most people when we stretch, what do we do? We hold our breath and we kind of close our eyes because it's uncomfortable when we stretch. We're protecting where we are, we are protecting our muscles and, you know, we've just done a workout and so we're maybe protecting it a little better before we work out, and that is such an analogy of where we are in life, is we really do kind of hold our breath a little bit when things get uncomfortable and it keeps us from growing. And so, in the stretch, Tony Horton, the creator of P90X and Next Level, a dear friend of mine, I've worked with him for years and he'll say that the stretches and the exhale, and so when we are holding our breath and we are miming the stretch, it looks the same but it doesn't do the same thing. And so how many times as leaders, do we do that? But when we exhale and stay in that discomfort, we're stretching, leaning into the discomfort with purpose and for the focus of getting the most out of that stretch, we grow, and we expand. And so, when John said he was going to be talking about these five stretches of a leader, I just thought, you know, that's us leaning into the expansion because we can stay small and tight, just like after a workout if we don't stretch, or we can lean into that growth. And I love that, and I'm curious how you felt hearing that analogy? How would you say that you have leaned into that exhale as a leader and expanding with this gift of time?

Mark:                    It's a perfect day to ask that question. In fact, at the point of this recording, Traci, we’ll be releasing this live in the next week. But I just got back yesterday with my first time to spend time with John since COVID started. So, it's been, what? Nine weeks? And we've now for nine, almost ten years, we've traveled together more than any other human being I've ever traveled with, John the same way, and then we've had these two months off. And so, I just spent time with John and that makes the question relevant in one sense of the word. The other sense of the word that makes your question to me very relevant is I really am in a moment of exhaling and saying, “You know, when is this going to stop? When is COVID going to be over?” And now, again, I heard John teach this lesson a week ago. I'm getting ready to record the application with you, and in between the first time I heard it, and the time I heard it today to get ready to do this right here, I have felt like that I am tired of the stretching. Can we have a moment to were just all day long, it's just good news. Not the ramifications of stay at home or the ramifications of new cases or whatever angle, health or financial or mental that you want to look at this crisis that we're in, I just found myself saying, “Ah, I'm tired of stretching.” And then I hear from you who, again, I know you get tired, but you never appear to get tired in working out. I've traveled the world, you and myself and our teams have done some great—and you always have this propensity to stretch physically to push yourself. And then John yesterday, was sharing with me the push from a leadership perspective, to stretch and to grow, and so I think that I would tell you, it is in that exhaling that we go, “Oh, I've got enough energy to push again. I got enough energy to stretch again.” And so, I think that's where we are, I think that's where I was listening to this podcast again today.

Traci:                    Mmhmm, and I think of just like an exercise, when, and why I'm able to exercise and travel and make that an intentional piece is because there's a reward of growth that comes from regularly stretching. So, when we stay the same, it's uncomfortable too, but in a different way. So, when we do the stretch, and we grow and the reward of—even if it fails, even if we have to go through what didn't go well, there's still growth in that. I mean, we're failing forward and so the reward of that growth, the discomfort of growth is so much more comfortable than the discomfort of staying the same. Which kind of leads into creative when he talked about the second stretch, where you know, he said, “Why should we go back to normal?” You know, the new norm has possibilities. And I feel like we, in this Coronavirus season, it's been so far, I don't know how many there will be, but I feel like there have been three phases. So, the first phase was, “Oh my gosh! Everything shut down and changed. We have to adapt to the new norm till we get back to normal.” And, we kind of have learned, you know, you and I were talking just the other day about, we've created new patterns and habits in the new norm, and so, second phase is, how do we decide what part of the old norm, as we start to open up the world, how do we decide what part of the old world stays and is worthy of bringing into the future? How do we decide what of the new norm gets left behind and comes forward? And so, I'm just curious, how are you as a leader, deciding which norms, old norm, new norm, future norm, what stays and how you create something radically new, really, it'll never look the same.

Mark:                    You know, so, I just finished up a lunch, again, right before this recording, with a couple of the members of my leadership team, and Chris Goede, who also co-hosts this podcast sometimes, he said he had heard an interesting statement the other day, and I'm going to use it right now. This is less than an hour old for me, Traci, but he said that he heard somebody say, when we say new normal, it's as if we're going to have a normal that is coming, and we're all waiting for this new normal. And he said he heard this statement the other day that says, “It's not new normal that we're after, it's new now.” We're in a new now season, and guess what? Three weeks from now it's going to be a new now. And that whole new now really triggered something in me over lunch today, but it's something that I want to use right here. I think that our belief that we can get creative and create some kind of a box that's going to secure somebody anytime in the foreseeable future, it's a mirage. We're not going to do that, and I keep waiting, I was telling them at lunch today, I keep waiting on some line that I'm going to cross and all of a sudden, I'm going to go, “Okay, now we have a new normal. Phew!” It's like this destination, we're not on that. That's not where we are right now. We are in a new now, and that new now is going to be new again in a few days, in a few weeks. And so, this whole challenge that I'm challenging myself, challenging our team, is what do we have control of today? What do we have the ability to shape today? And let's be creative on that, and then guess what? We will bring creativity back up tomorrow. It's kind of like, you'll appreciate this analogy, creativity is a muscle, you leave it alone, and it atrophies. You use it and it expands and it gets better. I think we’re in a place right now, and this is what John was teaching, we're in a place right now that we don't need to use creativity to create a new box, a new normal, we need to use creativity as a muscle, because we're going to need it again next week, we're going to need it again the next week, because that's where we are right now.

Traci:                    And there's so many times in life where, as a leader, especially, we have to kind of push ourselves out of our comfort zone to get to that creative space. The beauty of this is that we really don't have any other option other than if we were to curl into a ball and just eat chips for the next four weeks or whatever, you know? Eat junk food or whatever, but it really does cause us to not, kind of, hunker down and cover our heads, but it kind of beckons us and I know I felt that way, you and I kind of had that conversation, didn't you feel that? When this first started, didn't you just feel creativity sparked?

Mark:                    Yeah, but see, you asked me this question a moment ago, but in this lull or in this exhale that I feel like I'm in right now, I'm exhaling, I'm going, “Oh, come on.” In the moment, I just kind of want to sit back for a moment, not use that to gain the strength to get into a new creativity. Again, I felt so creative at the beginning of this. And now I'm going, “Oh, my goodness, I'm kind of tired of having to be creative on a new set of challenges today.” But that's not a leaders mindset. We're going to get into perspective, perhaps later, Traci, but that's not—I think we can't start seeing creativity as optional. I think we've got to see it as necessary to be relevant as we move through this time. That's why it's a stretch. The stretch for me is not the ability to create a creative environment or to come up with a creative idea; I do that okay. The stretch for me is to realize how necessary on a daily basis, creativity is going to have to be going forward.

Traci:                    Mmhmm, I agree for the same, it's kind of what he talked about the rubber bands, and his granddaughter who had two rubber bands, you know? Like maybe I'm somebody who has to—sometimes I feel like in this, I've got four or five rubber bands around my two wrists and the tension of that is, you know, when you're stretching your body, it's good to inhale and ease off a little bit, and then lean back in the exhale of an actual physical stretch. But in a situation like this, sometimes you have to learn to inhale and exhale in the stretch. Because, you know, you're stuck there for a little while, but it's going to change, it's just whether or not we continue to lean into that.

Mark:                    Yeah, let me say one more thing on that, Traci, because, again, and this is just another way to say what I was just saying and how you just said that so well. I used to have creative sessions, “Hey, guys, let's have a brainstorming session. Everybody, we're going to dream about the future, and I want everybody to bring your creative ideas.” And that's the way we pitched, or let me say, pigeonholed creativity yesterday, but no longer because today, don't even come to the meeting if creativity is not a given. If you're not bringing creativity to the table, you lose relevancy at the table. Everybody in a new now or a new norm is going to have to bring creativity. It's not a workshop or a session, it is a necessity for every session.

Traci:                    Oh, that's so good! I wrote that down, “pigeon holing creativity”, because that's the last thing that we want to do. But when we're leading a team, everybody kind of comes at it in a different way where there's a lot of moving pieces and each person who might be used to the regular way of accessing creativity, and so, now this is getting people a little bit out of balance. And so, as a health coach, I would just like to remind you all that if you were to exercise, that does get your brain sparking for new creative ideas. So just had to add in a little pitch for making sure that you're exercising. So, when John talks about helping your perspective to be broader, higher, longer, than it was before, how not only do you do that in a complete unknown, I mean, I almost feel like we are in a parallel universe, and everything, you're right, will never be the same, but we don't want it to be the same, but we want something to feel comfortable. And so, we're kind of stuck in this tension. So how is your perspective expanded? And how are you expanding that in your team to continue to help them to aim for something that they really haven't seen before?

Mark:                    You know, boy, I love this question, and Traci, I watch how your perspective always brings in a well-rounded human being. Whether it's your family, you’re bringing them into your transformational work, whether it's your business, they're very aware of how much you love your family. And here's what I'll tell you, so I say that because I honor you as it relates to perspective in saying, “How would Traci engage?” You know, I was sitting on the couch last night, I love to tell Macy stories, my thirteen-year-old daughter, of her thirteen years, whatever thirteen times three hundred and sixty-five is, our most hilarious day was yesterday. We sit on the couch last night from about 7:30, well, dinner, got up, that kind of stuff. But we sat together whether it was out by the pool, on the couch, at dinner. And last night, we laughed more than we have ever laughed in one day last night. Everything we found we were just on sync—now, I've been traveling for a couple of days, and I hadn't traveled for two and a half months, and so coming back everybody was missing everybody. But it was just this moment. She sent me a text today and she said, “Dad, I just need you to have some perspective. We need to do that more often.” And I'm like, okay, that's a perspective stretch that my daughter—now, then I get to the office today, and I'm going, “Wow, there's a grind here. There is a perspective that needs to be adjusted.” Now, here's my point, Traci, and many people that are on the podcast, you know this about me about John, we have a foundation of faith that really kind of drives our whole worldview. That's not everybody and that's okay. But for me, Traci, there is this perspective that I need to have every once in a while, and I'm going to put a faith context on it first, and then I'll make it a little bit more worldly, worldview as a second comment. First, I want you guys to understand, this is not mine, the succession is not mine, what John's got is not mine, what John has given me is not mine, it is all something that I am a steward of. And what that does is it frees me up to not feel so much like this is dependent on me, and yet, it also gives me the opportunity to know that I'm not in this alone. Even when I feel lonely from every other human being, there is a perspective that I know that I am where I am because of something much bigger than me. My faith allows me to have a perspective that's much bigger than me. Isn't it interesting? Somebody sent this to me today, it may have been Jason, I can't remember who—oh! John Griffin. He sent me, he said, “Isn't it interesting that as babies we come into this world with clenched fist, but as older people we go out with palms open?” And isn't that indicative of how we take moments like this? The question is, are you clenched fist right now with this little immature mindset that everything you can hold is yours? When really, you need to have a much more mature perspective with palms up, hands out, stretched, and say, “This is not mine. This is really something about people and situations that's bigger than me.” I can't imagine what some of you in the podcast world is dealing with right now, from emotional instability, from financial instability, from health instability, and I sit here and almost think that my problems are the globe's problems, and there's people with much greater challenges. And this is the carnal way to say it, except for one trivial exception, the world is made up of others. In other words, your perspective for it to be right has got to have a bigger picture, a bigger purpose, a bigger pool of people for it to really be the right perspective.

Traci:                    And it sounds easy but it's also, it's so simple, but it's not easy. But I hear you say that and I think that's a very freeing thought what you said whether you listen to it from the spiritual perspective, especially deeply meaningful, but even if you listen to it just from a human perspective, when we allow ourselves to stretch, open our hands and not hold things too tightly. John's right when he says how we view things is how we do things. And if we keep that big picture, it does allow us to drop. Imagine, like I think of by the time we're old, we're carrying a lot of baggage, we're carrying a lot of burden, we're carrying a lot of things that, really, what can we really control? And so, opening our hands, looking at things with the big picture, and looking at how far can we go? That's a very practical way of finding out, you know, how can we soar above like John said, how can we serve people and see how far can we go?

Mark:                    Yeah, you know, it kind of as we wrap today, Traci, and again, boy, I just love getting to go deep in application with someone like yourself that you're applying this as a family person, you're applying this as a business leader, you're applying this as a board member to our nonprofit of transforming countries, you're applying that in relationships, mine and your friendship, you are just the same as you are with your family, with your business. There's just this ability to be consistent, and yet, stretch ourselves. And isn't that what it's all about? John, you can stretch a rubber band. In fact, it's not useful until it's stretched. But yet, when you stretch that rubber band, it's still a rubber band. And I think the challenge that I have for myself, the challenge that I have for all of you, as we close the podcast today is what I learned from you, Traci, and that is that in all the stretching, and John gave us five ways that we need to be stretching now, you need to be true to yourself. You need to find and build capacity around your values. You need to know your purpose. You need to know the importance of your place in this earth and your place in the life of the women and men around you. And I would just challenge you, I told John yesterday, and you'll hear this very shortly on a podcast that he and I are doing. I told John yesterday, I said, never has there been more dysfunction as leaders. Never has there been a vacuum of leadership like we have right now. And yet, never has there been an opportunity for this values-based people centric leadership to make a difference. And Traci, I'm going to tell you, because we're partners, we get to do a lot of different things together, can't wait to do even more together. But I'm going to tell you, the world needs this values-based, servant-based leadership, that that you and I are so passionate about, and that's got to give us, speaking of perspective, that's got to give us great hope in a bigger picture, that we can make a difference in this world for such a time as this.

Traci:                    That's exactly right, and it's not just you and me. The beauty about this is it's open to any person who chooses to step in and stretch themselves, allow them to be stretched, allow yourself to be stretched in this time knowing that you were made for more and following this kind of model that John and Mark have laid out for us to reframe our thinking, to grab hold of the opportunity knowing that there is no finish line and there are people out there who are looking for what we have and how we have to serve them. And so, thank you for your kind words, Mark. It's our honor to be a part of this whole thing that John has cast for us, isn't it?

Mark:                    Yeah it is. Final quote here and we'll sign off. David Foster Wallace said, “Everything I've ever let go of has claw marks on it.” In other words, it's like that little baby, holding a clenched fist, everything we let go, has claw marks on it. And hey, thanks for being a part! Please pass this podcast on to somebody else you think it will impact. Join us next week, we'll be back here talking leadership. And until then, let's lead, let's make a difference. Have a great day! And again, don't forget go to, and you'll be able to click on the “Bonus Resource” button, get the worksheet and make this lesson come alive. Have a great day! Let's lead!

5 thoughts on “Five Stretches to Help You Grow”

  1. This was an excellent teaching specific to what we are going through and how the law of the rubber band can help us to stretch and grow. I am going to put what I have learned here into practice.
    Thank you

  2. That was so helpful! It also showed me how I can use the stretching of the rubber bands with my grandchildren. It applies to everyone I just needed a different lens to apply to the younger children! Thank you. I also love the work out analogy and the different perspective each day with our families.

  3. This is magic. THANK YOU for the lesson
    Why are folk fearful of stretching their thinking for themselves.
    KenC – Fish Hoek, South Africa

  4. I love the value add John, thank you so much for the learning’s and the insight. I can apply it and help others gain value, thank you

  5. Thank you so much.. This session is just what we need now. It’s time to blow off the caps and do the impossible.

    Thank you so much John Maxwell.

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