Do you recognize the gap between your current capabilities and where they could be? We may feel stuck in our comfort zones or just satisfied with where we are, but for personal growth, this is the silent killer for achieving excellence in our life.
John C. Maxwell examined in his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, this concept under what he called “The Law of Rubber Band”. The law is a simple an illustration for the core purpose of the rubber band. “Rubber bands are useful only when they are stretched”. Similarly, we can apply this concept to our life; unless we stretch ourselves, we will not have the tension between where we are now and where we could be. Hence, growth stops.
This post summarizes the Law of Rubber Band which is the law number 10 in the book. The rest of the laws were summarized as the following:
- The Law of Intentionality;
- The Law of Awareness;
- The Law of Mirror;
- The Law of Reflection;
- The Law of Consistency;
- The Law of Environment;
- The law of Design;
- The law of Pain; and
- The law of Ladder.
The Need to Stretching
What is the relationship between stretching and achieving our personal growth?
Maxwell explained that as “growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be. For most people, as time goes by they lose the tension that prompts growth—especially if they experience any success. But having less tension makes people less productive. And it undermines the growth toward their potential”.
Accordingly, we need to keep looking for stretching experiences, seize the opportunities within them and accept the challenge.
In this context, Maxwell observed the following:
- Few people want to stretch
Not everyone is willing to use his/ her full potential and capabilities. This is because they don’t use the tension in their life in order to grow! Most often, they settle for average life. We may think that average life is a good one, but Maxwell provided us with a nice description from Edmund Gaudet for the pitfalls of being an “Average”:
“Average” is what the failures claim to be when their family and friends ask them why they are not more successful.
“Average” is the top of the bottom, the best of the worst, the bottom of the top, the worst of the best. Which of these are you?
“Average” means being run-of-the-mill, mediocre, insignificant, an also-ran, a nonentity.
Being “average” is the lazy person’s cop-out; it’s lacking the guts to take a stand in life; it’s living by default.
Being “average” is to take up space for no purpose; to take the trip through life, but never to pay the fare; to return no interest for God’s investment in you.
Being “average” is to pass one’s life away with time, rather than to pass one’s time away with life; it’s to kill time, rather than to work it to death.
To be “average” is to be forgotten once you pass from this life. The successful are remembered for their contributions; the failures are remembered because they tried; but the “average”, the silent majority, is just forgotten.
To be “average” is to commit the greatest crime one can against one’s self, humanity, and one’s God. The saddest epitaph is this: “Here lies Mr. and Ms.
Average—here lies the remains of what might have been, except for their belief that they were only average”.
So, the solution for this mindset is to mind the gap, between our potential and our current usage of them, and use the tension of that gap to motivate us to grow.
- Settling for the status quo ultimately leads to dissatisfaction
Settling for your status quo, being stuck in your comfort zone and getting trapped with your familiar habits and patterns are all sources of losing the tension that you need grow. Instead, we have to face that tension and keep it alive.
- Stretching always starts from the inside out
Never underestimate the power that comes from your dreams. Putting a limit for what we can achieve is a major source for not using our full potentials.
- Stretching always requires change
We cannot just settle in our comfort zone; avoiding change and then asking for improvement. Great results mandate taking risks, embrace change and accept stretching.
- Stretching sets you apart from others
Following the law of rubber band and looking for ways to stretch your capabilities will help you to distinguish yourself from others. Eventually, excellence doesn’t mean meeting specific expectations; it means expanding them first and then exceeding them.
- Stretching can become a lifestyle
The more we practice stretching, the more alive we will feel.
I’m not where I’m supposed to be
I’m not what I want to be
But I’m not what I used to be
I haven’t learned how to arrive
I’ve just learned how to keep going
- Stretching gives you a shot at significance
Stretching helps us to achieve extraordinary results. “A possibility is a hint from God. One must follow it”, Søren Kierkegaard.
Applying the Law of Rubber Band at Our Lives
In order to fully use the law of rubber, Maxwell suggested three actions as the following:
- In what areas of your life have you lost your stretch and settled in? Wherever they are, you need to find internal reasons to seek the tension to stretch again.
- Be strategic to maintain the tension between where you are and where you could be by continually resetting intermediate-range goals for yourself.
- If you need an overarching goal to keep you stretching, think about what significant action you could take if only you become what you could be. Dream big, and set this as your lifetime goal.
“God’s gift to us: potential. Our gift to God: developing it.” How do we do that? By getting out of our comfort zone. By continually stretching —not only physically but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Life begins at the end of our comfort zone. We go there by stretching.