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  • Writer's pictureRyan Jones

Sorry, not sorry! Growth requires stretching.

I recently began to take my road cycling passion more seriously. I've always enjoyed riding bicycles and have always been fascinated by the Tour de France's top riders. It's not about short races for me; it's about people who can ride for hours and conquer mountains. Last week, I finished my first metric century ride (63 miles), and in preparation for it, I was thinking about the law of the rubber band in John C. Maxwell's book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. I'm a major fan of this book, as you may recall.

As I've read and re-read this book over the years, my understanding of this chapter about the rubber band has developed. Here's a quick rundown for those who aren't familiar: Only when rubber bands are stretched are they useful. As a result, we must stretch ourselves if we are to grow. Mr. Maxwell talks about numerous life lessons, including how stretching helps us grow. I'd like to focus on one very specific lesson that I've seen in my life and in the lives of my clients.

This is the lesson I'd like to share. You will be stretched at some point along your growth journey, and you will have two choices:

1) release the stretch and return to what is familiar; or

2) continue to be stretched beyond your comfort level until your new normal becomes comfortable.

The point of stretch is when most growth is halted. We don't always want to confront our loved ones or the doubters. We've all got them. When you express your wish to stretch, how does your inner circle react? Why would you want to do something like that? That is an excessive amount of effort. What do you believe will occur?

Long before I learned the law of the rubber band, there was one thing I always believed in: a desire to learn. I'm often eager to learn new things. Stopping to learn means never stretching your thoughts again. On my phone, I spend my "down" time on programs that challenge me. Mind games are how I unwind. I enjoy solving riddles and testing my mental limits. I've encountered a lot of resistance from folks who don't understand my desire to push myself. Simply consider how many books you've read that weren't assigned to you. It makes no difference to me whether it's nonfiction or fiction. What methods do you use to challenge your mind? What methods do you use to stretch your body? How can you make your spirit grow?

You must overcome the discomfort of the stretch to grow. Sometimes you cause your own doubts, and other times, culture or society shames you into believing you can't or shouldn’t.

The law of the rubber band is true. Many of the people I've helped first must see the stretch and be coached through it. This isn’t a bad thing or a sign of weakness in trying to do it alone. Having someone who has been there, done that, is the help you need to see and stretch and not overstretch. Rubber bands do break, and so do we when we go too far. So, any stretch is good.

Believe me and others, stretching is necessary for growth. Continuous growth comes from repeated stretches.

If you are comfortable in your life, I encourage you to pray for your next step forward and to be willing to extend yourself.

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