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Live the Law of the Rubber Band

If I were to ask the question: “Do you want to grow?” How would YOU respond?

I believe it would be a resounding yes, I want to grow! But the truth of the matter is that for most of us, we avoid any form of pressure because we don’t want to feel uncomfortable. You see, we have been taught that comfort is a place to be desired and strived for. 

I would like to introduce a new thought today. 

All living things grow and that growth requires stretching. 

In John Maxwell’s 15 Laws of Growth, the Law of the Rubber Band, he says: “True life begins at the end of our comfort zone and we arrive there by stretching.”

When it comes to tension and stretching, a rubber band is a great example.

Rubber bands are ONLY useful when they are stretched. You would not be where you are professionally, and who you are personally, without some form of tension or stretching taking place. 


For many, the thought is, when I graduate from college and get a teaching job, I have arrived and I can now stop being stretched. Or as soon as I get that role as principal, the rest will be easy. 

I believe that we should continue growing throughout our lives. But with growth comes discomfort and initially pain. 

What we felt in school was, the tension to do enough to get that diploma. It can easily be described as, the tension between where you were and where you wanted to be … couldn’t it? 

I know what I did, just enough to get by, to just "survive and advance"… how about you?

Perhaps some of you are like me, all I wanted to do was get out of school because my thought was, once I get out of school I will not have to feel all this pressure. Once I become a teacher, life will be easier.  Once I get into the principal seat, I can tell others what to do. Once I get to the central office, I’ll have more time and less stress. I’ll just start my own business and be my own boss so no one can tell me what to do. 

I said ALL of those things and each time, my thoughts were false. 

By continually stretching, not only physically but emotionally, intellectually, and even spiritually, you can live a more empowered and desired life. It won’t be a life without pain and sacrifice, but it will be a life by design, not by default.  

Here are seven benefits to tension that I would like to share with you from Maxwell’s Law of the Rubber band. 

Few people ever want to be stretched – it is literally like saying to your employer, I know I am over qualified but I promise to only use half of my ability. Most people use only a fraction of their ability and rarely if ever try to reach their full potential. David Godine claims that only 32% of the US population has ever been in a bookstore. Why is this statistic so alarming? Because we are not willing to read, to learn, and grow. When was the last time you learned something new, or tried something for the first time?

Recommendation: Set time daily to learn something new (read or listen to podcasts).

Settling for the status-quo – Most people are satisfied to settle into the comfort zone of life falling into familiar patterns and habits they have learned from those around them. Being in the comfort zone may feel good and feel safe but it will lead to mediocrity and ultimately dissatisfaction. It takes real courage to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. No one remembers average people. 

Recommendation: Put yourself in a constant environment of growth, where people are ahead of you and you're working on new things. 

Stretching is an inside job - The real process of growth begins with your thoughts. Those thoughts then become words and the words become actions! James Allen says: “You cannot travel within and stand still without.” Think about it! All life, except mankind, grows to its full potential. It’s only mankind that circumvents the process. For example: How tall will a tree grow? A tree doesn’t decide to stop growing, it continues growing all its life. This inside job is an internal measurement that allows you to evaluate where you are against what you are capable of. 

Recommendation: Practice a form of self-reflection (journal, meditation or yoga). Get feedback from those you trust on your areas for growth as a person.

Stretching always requires change – change is always a challenge because it propels us out of a place of comfort. Just a couple of real truths I would like to share with you. You can’t improve and avoid change at the same time! We must stop looking over our shoulder at what was and start focusing on what is. I find it interesting that you usually will not find a successful person who isn’t restless in some way. And to quote George Elliot, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” If you are still satisfied with what you did five years ago, then you are not growing.

Recommendation: Set BIG goals by writing out the History of Your Future. (Download our History of Your Future and Vision Board exercise)

Stretching sets you apart from others – have you noticed that people seem to have become satisfied with mediocrity? This is about a personal concession to be less than your best. I find it so interesting that excellence seems to be further and further away from the accepted norms of society. Successful people set themselves apart from the crowd by going over and above what others do. As you stretch and get better you will be able to affect and infect others who will follow your lead and everyone will become better as a result. 

Recommendation: Ask your supervisor to put you in charge of a huge school or organizational improvement initiative this summer. Ask them what you need to do to be in your dream job!

Stretching can become a lifestyle – When you stop stretching you stop growing and perhaps even stop in some ways. I for one am going to continue stretching and growing as long as I’m on the planet. There is no place for me personally to stop and rest on my laurels because all living things continue growing and it only happens by being stretched. Make stretching yourself a daily routine.

Recommendation: Block time each day for learning and growing. Be sure to end every day with three questions based on what you learned: 

What will I APPLY? What will I CHANGE? What will I TEACH others?

Stretching gives you a shot at significance - You see, if you are going to grow yourself you must first know yourself. What is the gap between good and great? Could it be that our ability to close that gap is directly related to our willingness to be stretched? Who are you having a positive impact on today? Who is it that you have intentionally invested in today that is making a difference in them and you? John has said: “I want to make a difference, doing something that makes a difference, at a time that makes a difference, with people who make a difference.” People who are committed to stretching themselves will make a difference. The real bottom line on the Law of the Rubber Band is … are you always looking for a better way to do what you already do? If you are, then you need to know ahead of time that it will stretch you out of your comfort zone and propel you into your desired future. 

Recommendation: Nothing worth while is completed alone. Start to build a team that can make your dream a reality. 

The Law of the Rubber Band may be my favorite law because as I live it out, I am never the same and I get better.

As you deal with your day to day situations, whether business or personal related, you are going to have several painful experiences. How you choose to deal with those determine how you positively (or negatively) impact your circumstances and influence those around you. 

I choose to grow daily because when the opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare. 

What I am saying is, if you are not growing, you are dying. 

Please choose growing!

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Your dream needs ALL of you! I believe in you. I believe in your dream.

Let me help you get there.

Dr. Tom

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