Over the next few months we will be discussing the 15 laws of growth from John Maxwells book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. We will discuss one law per week and sum it up at the end with a complete call to action.
Only a mediocre person is always at his best. – W. Somerset Maughmam
Take a few seconds and think of all the possible ways you can use a rubber band. The possible uses of a rubber band may be in the hundreds or even the thousands. Now try thinking of all the possible ways to use a rubber band without stretching it. My guess is the answer you came up with there is zero. A rubber band is completely useless without its ability to stretch. Maxwell says that we are the same way. This is the theory behind the tenth law, the law of the rubber band.
Like a rubber band, we are only useful when we are stretched. Maxwell says that stretching, or leaving our comfort zone, benefits us in seven distinct ways:
1. Few people want to stretch
Most people only ever use a tiny portion of their potential. They live their lives getting by and for the most part settling for mediocrity. Unwilling to stretch and leave their comfort zone, they never find out what they are truly capable of or reach their ultimate dreams.
If most people aren’t willing to stretch, doing so yourself sets you apart. If you are tired of settling for average and mediocrity it’s time to stretch yourself. Do things that scare you. Leave your comfort zone. Embrace new opportunities. Stretch the rubber band.
2. Settling for status quo leads to dissatisfaction
People tend to fall into familiar patterns and habits. They do the same things the same way day in and day out. It becomes comfortable. It’s why leaving your comfort zone is difficult. But while settling for the status quo may be comfortable, it tends to leave us unfulfilled.
If you want more satisfaction in your life, stretch beyond your comfort zone.
3. Stretching always starts from the inside
Every life form seems to strive to its maximum except human beings. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. Human beings, on the other hand, have been given the dignity of choice. You can choose to be all or you can choose to be less. Why not stretch up to the full measure of the challenge and see what all you can do. – Jim Rohn
Stretching yourself is not a talent you are born with. It is a conscious decision inside yourself to get out of your comfort zone and grow. It’s deciding that reaching your potential is more important than being comfortable.
Make a choice today to stretch yourself like you never have before.
4. Stretching always requires change
Have you ever met a successful person who wasn’t restless- who was satisfied with where he or she was in life? They want new challenges. They want to get up and go… and that’s one of the reasons they’re successful. – Alex Trebek
Perhaps the biggest reason most people don’t embrace stretching themselves is that stretching requires change. People don’t like change. But in order to grow, we must be willing to embrace positive changes in every aspect of our lives.
Maxwell says that innovation and progress are most often initiated by people who push for change. Those who embrace the change rise, while those afraid of it remain mediocre or worse.
5. Stretching sets you apart
We spend our lives being taught to meet expectations. Growing up you are expected to get certain grades, perform at a certain level in sports or other activities and get a job making a certain level of pay.
Because of this, we are conditioned to strive to meet expectations. But those who stretch themselves to exceed anyone else’s expectations set themselves apart from the crowd. And there’s no better way to rise up in the world than by setting yourself apart.
6. Stretching can become a lifestyle
The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s success is today’s success. No one has ever made a significant impact after they won the Nobel Prize. – Peter Drucker
Maxwell says that when we stop stretching, we stop living. Because of this, we should aim to make stretching a lifestyle. If we aren’t careful, our success can become the enemy of stretching.
Don’t let today’s success stop you from stretching for tomorrow.
7. Stretching gives you a shot at significance
To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life. – Robert Louis Stevenson
Do you ever wish you were capable of making a difference in the world? That life was more than just going to work every day, coming home, eating dinner and watching TV, then doing it all over again the next day? Maxwell says we are all capable of living a life of significance, but that we can only get their by stretching ourselves.
We are all capable of making a significant difference in this world. In order to do that, we have to stretch ourselves beyond anything we have ever done before.
Stretching to the End
The greatest people in the world, the ones who have made the biggest difference and touched the most lives, have lived their entire lives stretching themselves to the very end.
Like rubber bands, we must constantly be stretching ourselves in order to reach our potential.