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    All Posts by Jon Stolpe
    Christ-follower, husband, dad, engineer, manager, runner, blogger, sax player, group life fan, freelance writer, and the list goes on...

    Finding Your Career Calling

    Tonight, I had the privilege of facilitating the mastermind group I lead for men (Stretched Men Group).  We talked about a lot of things tonight, and my heart if full.

    A lot of men struggle with a sense of fulfillment or calling when it comes to their careers.

    Do I fit in here?  Am I making a difference?  Am I wasting my time?  Could I be doing more?

    As we were talking, I was reminded of a formula presented by Brian Jones in his book, Finding Favor:

    Calling = Passion + Skill + Opportunity

    When your greatest passions line up with your skills and the opportunities in front of you, you’ve likely found your calling.

    As you get ready to head to work tomorrow, I pray you find yourself right where you are called to be.

    What’s your calling?

    What’s Your Priority?


    The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
    Stephen Covey

    Yesterday, I posted about wanting a Do Over.  I shared about my desire for a Do Over when it comes to blogging.  If you’re keeping track then you’ll know this is my second day of blogging in a row after a fairly long hiatus.

    As I was taking my morning walk today, I had a simple realization.  I’ve been walking every day for quite some time.  In fact, I’ve reached 10,000 (or more steps) every day for the past 230+ days.  In order to keep this streak alive, I’ve had to make walking a priority.  I walk in the dark, early morning hours of the morning many days, and sometimes I walk in the dark, late night hours of the evening if I’m running low on steps.  Sometimes, I go way over 10,000 steps, and sometimes I just barely make 10,000 steps.  Walking and reaching my daily step goal is clearly a priority.

    What is your priority?

    If blogging with consistency is my goal, I must make it a priority.  I may have to blog in the early morning hours.  I may have to blog in the late night hours.  I may have to miss out on other things that just aren’t as important but have occupied my time.

    When we say “Yes” to something, we must say “No” to many, many other things.

    What do you need to say “No” to today?

    But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:33


    I Need A Do Over

    Mulligan – noun – (in informal golf) an extra stroke allowed after a poor shot, not counted on the scorecard.  (Google Dictionary)

    Have you ever wanted to start over?

    Have you ever made a mistake and wanted to erase that mistake?

    Have you ever gotten out of the habit of doing something good and wanted to get back on the right track?

    I feel this way about blogging.  I’ve been writing here on my blog for over eleven years, and I have fallen out of my blogging grove over the past several months.

    Yesterday, my wife told me she missed my blog posts, and I’ve had a few people check in with me to make sure I was okay after they hadn’t heard from me for a while.  (Thanks for checking in on me!)

    I don’t want to erase everything I’ve written in the past, but I sometimes wish I could start over with the same energy and time commitment to writing.  Some of this is in my control, but I also recognize that many things have changed for me over the past eleven years – especially over the past two years since I took on more responsibility at work.

    And so I come back to my blog and to you, my readers, asking for a “Do Over.”

    I want to get back on the right track, and I’m hoping you’ll join me on the journey.

    See you tomorrow!

    Do you need a Do Over?

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 5:17

    For ideas on how to get a fresh start, click here.

    Time for a New Perspective

    Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.
    Sterling K. Brown

    This morning, I decided to write while sitting at the “bar” (or counter) of the Starbucks where I usually write on Sunday mornings before church.  I typically write while sitting at one of the tables against the wall.  For some reason, it felt like it was a good day for a different perspective.

    From my current vantage point, I watch three Starbucks team members behind the counter busily serving their customers.  One young man is the barista.  Another is emptying the trash, warming up pastries, and loading the refrigerator with milk.  A young lady is at the register taking orders.  They seem to be working well together to meet the expectations of their customers.

    I’m thankful for the new perspective this morning.

    A couple of weeks ago, we held a meeting in our office for our field specialists.  They are the team members who make sure our products work correctly in the buildings where we are contracted to provide our products and services.  During the meeting, one of the specialists indicated he wanted a chance to do my job for the day – kind of a reverse Undercover Boss scenario.

    I’ve been mulling over this request for a few days.  What would it look like to have someone shadow me for a day?  How could I give them an appropriate perspective on my job without compromising my performance or the confidentiality that I must keep with some of the information that comes my way?  What is a reasonable outcome of such an experiment?  Would a “Boss for the Day” experiment be beneficial in the long-run?

    Life is about perspective and how you look at something… ultimately, you have to zoom out.
    Whitney Wolfe

    Honestly, I had never thought of such an idea before I heard it two weeks ago.  It’s a reminder to keep my eyes and ears open to the ideas, perspectives, and opportunities presented by others.

    Are you a person of routine like me?

    One of my Daily Stretch Affirmations is:  I take time to try new things.

    What new thing do you need to experience today?  What action do you need to take to get out of your comfort zone?  What step will you take today to get a new perspective?

    What are you waiting for?  Do it!

    See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:19

    How Can I Help?

    I want to influence culture instead of letting culture influence me.  Despite this intent, I’ve learned that I can’t live my life with blinders.  While I want to be influential, I need to be open to how I might be STRETCHED by the world around me – and that includes the culture.

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

    Romans 12:2

    This week, I was folding laundry while Leanne was working on grad school homework.  While I was folding clothes and sorting socks, I turned on a new NBC television show, New Amsterdam.  In the show (inspired by a true story), Dr. Max Goodwin (played by Ryan Eggold) takes over New Amsterdam, a not-for-profit hospital in New York City.  Dr. Goodwin introduces himself to the hospital staff by asking a simple question:  “How can I help?”

    The rest of this episode (Pilot) introduces viewers to various characters and their stories while watching Dr. Goodwin repeatedly ask this question.

    Believe it or not, this time of multi-tasking (folding laundry and watching television) had a profound impact on me.

    I’ve always tried to be helpful – especially as a leader.  But if I’m honest (which I try to be), I don’t always think about what others need.  I don’t always ask how I can help.  I sometimes become self-absorbed caught up in my own list of things I want to accomplish or attend to each day.  I miss out on the real needs of my team members.

    This is not good, and it’s not the way I want to lead.

    I want to have a “How can I help” mindset.

    On Friday at the office, I repeatedly asked this question as I interacted with my co-workers and customers.  It was refreshing.  I felt a renewed sense of connection with my job, my team, and my mission.  I rediscovered a new passion for my role as a leader in my organization.

    As you head into the work week, I challenge you to ask this question at least once a day.  And when you ask how you can help be sure to listen to the response.  Then go do what you can do to help.

    How can I help you?

    Seriously, what can I do for you?  How can I help you become a better person?  How can I help you stretch?  How can I help you?

    Leave your response below (or feel free to reach out to me privately).  I’d love to help you!

    Stretch Affirmation 1 – I Take Time to Still Myself

    ​I take time to STILL myself.

    ​Daily Stretch Affirmation No. 1

    We live in a world of non-stop motion.  During the ​day, fingers are moving across keyboards creating and sending messages around the world.  Cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles are moving over the countless miles of concrete, asphalt, dirt, and stone that make the roads we travel.  People are moving from one meeting to the next.  At night, families and individuals are moving from one activity to the next – soccer practice, scouts, grocery shopping, dinner, homework, and the list goes on and on and on.  We don’t stop until we collapse in bed at the end of the day hoping to catch a few hours of sleep before we do it all over again the next day.

    ​Wake up.  Move.  Move.  Move.  Move.  Move.  Collapse in bed.

    We struggle to be still.

    This is not good!

    ​Statistics show that anxiety and anxiety disorders are on the rise.  For example, a recent Stastista survey finds that 39% of adults surveyed are more anxious in 2018 than in 2017.  Obviously, there could be a number of reasons for these findings, but I would argue that our culture of busyness and constant motion contributes to the anxiety we feel.

    ​If there’s any question that these results are short-sighted, I’d encourage you to think about your own experience.   How do you spend your days?  How often to you stop?  How much time are you moving around (physically or mentally)?

    ​I’ve written about it here before.  I struggle with this.  I typically get up at 4AM every day.  I turn off the light around 10PM every night.  And I’m in constant motion between 4AM and 10PM.

    ​It’s not healthy to live this way.

    It’s not the way we were meant to live.

    There’s a better, more healthy way.

    ​Taking time to still yourself has three benefits that are sure to make your life better.

    ​3 Benefits of Being Still

    ​1.  Being still gives you the opportunity for rest, restoration, and relaxation.  We need these things.  I’ve heard people say they can rest and relax when they die.  This may (or may not) be true.  I would argue that we need

    ​2. Being still gives you the opportunity to deepen your relationships with others.  In our busyness, we typically spend little time going deep with the people in our pathways.  We ask people how they are doing, and we become satisfied with their “Good” answer.  We’re okay with this answer, because we’re trying to get to the next thing or our brains are occupied with other thoughts.

    ​3.  Being still gives you a proper perspective on God.  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).”  When we are in constant motion, we leave little opportunity to connect with God, to contemplate God’s impact on our lives, and to develop an appropriate understanding of God.

    7 Daily Affirmations to Help You Stretch Everyday

    ​The discipline of daily affirmations took a major hit in the early 1990’s when Saturday Night Live aired several episodes of “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley” starring former SNL regular, Al Franken.  In each episode, Stuart Smalley offered self-talk in a way that came across as weird and even delusional.  Since then, many have shunned the practice of daily affirmations as unnecessary and crazy.

    ​Recently, the discipline of daily affirmations has gained traction as authors, speakers, and leaders have shared their affirmation success stories.  For example, Cliff Ravenscraft, the Podcast Answerman (now Mindset Answerman), has spoken qu​ite a bit about his own practice of daily affirmations on his weekly podcast, The Cliff Ravenscraft Show.  Episode 521 provides a small glimpse into his daily affirmations specifically related to money and wealth.  On his blog, leadership mentor, ​​Michael Hyatt, alludes to his use of daily affirmations to help train his brain in an article titled “How to Beat Your Brain and Succeed.”

    ​A couple of weeks ago at my Friday morning men’s group, the topic of daily affirmations came up.  Actually, the topic came up through a YouVersion study plan we were working through together (Crash the Chatterbox).  I had been thinking about incorporating daily affirmations into my morning routine, so I asked the group if any of them practice daily affirmations.  One of the guys in the group shared his daily affirmations with the group.  I promptly “stole” them and added my own to the list.

    I printed them out and taped them into the front cover of my daily planner.  ​I’m still working on making this a regular discipline in my life, but I can already tell the positive self-talk is actually a real good thing for crushing my doubts and encouraging me to use my gifts.

    ​Today, I’m sharing seven of these affirmations.  These are affirmations specifically written to remind me to Stretch on a daily basis.  Here they are:

    ​7 Stretch Daily Affirmations

    • ​I take time to Still myself and take regular sabbaths.
    • I take time to Thank people and express my genuine appreciation.
    • I take time to Reflect praising God for His working in my life.
    • I take time to Engage in key relationships.
    • I take time to Try new things.
    • I take time for Community.
    • I take time to Help Others.

    ​My daily affirmation list will continue to grow and transform as I live my life and encounter new challenges and opportunities.  I’m thankful for this new discipline in my life.

    Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.​Jim Rohn

    Jim Rohn brings up a great point about daily affirmations.  Words are meaningless unless they cause real action and change in our lives.  I would encourage you to share your daily affirmations with someone, and ask them to hold you accountable to taking action on the words you say to yourself everyday.  Also, ask them to observe you and give you honest feedback on what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to change when it comes to your daily affirmations.

    ​OK!  Now it’s your turn.  Stretch yourself today by creating your own list of daily affirmations.  When you’re creating this list, think about the things you want to keep doing, and think about the things you want to change or implement in your life.  You can do it!

    ​Do you practice the discipline of daily affirmations?  What affirmation ​do you need to add to your list?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    3 Things You Should Be Asking

    ​I have the opportunity to interview many young engineers, HVAC technicians, and project managers.  After listening to their stories and their explanations for why they are the best for the job, I ask them if I can give them a few suggestions for getting ahead whether or not they join my team.

    If they say “Yes” to my question, I tell them these three pieces of advice:

    ​3 Things You Should Be Asking

    ​Ask for Help

    ​Too often people are too pround to ask for the help they need to get ahead.  They don’t want to appear as if they don’t know what they are doing.  Humility is necessary if you want to get ahead.

    ​Ask for Feedback

    ​”How can I do this better the next time?”  This is a great way to learn more for your future endeavors, and it’s a great way to establish a connection with someone.  When you ask for feedback, you demonstrate a curiousity that is sure to produce results (as long as you follow through on the feedback you get).

    ​Ask for More Work or More Opportunities

    ​Don’t wait around for someone to give you another project or task.  Be proactive.  A hungry spirit will give you opportunity beyond your wildest dreams.

    These are the questions I have used to grow (or STRETCH as I like to say) in my career.  It’s not rocket science, but you’re sure to launch your career and your life when you incorporate these three questions into your regular routine.

    ​What questions have helped you go farther?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Stretched Men Group – Fall 2018 Mastermind – Forming NOW

    The next semester of the Stretched Men Group is getting ready to start, and men are getting ready to STRETCH their marriages, their parenting, their careers, their faith, and their lives.

    You don’t want to miss the opportunity to be part of the Stretched Men Group!

    The Stretched Men Group provides a safe, transforming environment to help men like you take steps forward.  Here are some of the ways the group has helped other men:

    One man started praying for his ex-wife.

    One man started taking his family back to church.

    One man changed jobs.

    One man had a tough conversation with his wife that transformed his relationship.

    One man had a difficult conversation with his co-worker that led to a job change.

    One man tackled a pornography addiction.

    One man started reading his Bible on a daily basis.

    One man reached out to his estranged sons.

    One man took his marriage and sex-life to a whole new level.

    If you’re looking to STRETCH and experience this kind of change in your life, you should join the next semester of the Stretched Men Group.  For more information, go to www.stretchedmengroup.com.  Once you are there, you can request a FREE, no pressure informational call with me to see if the Stretched Men Group is right for you.

    Don’t wait too long, the spots will fill up fast.

    What are you waiting for?  It’s time to STRETCH now!

    Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
    Napoleon Hill

    6 Things You Need to Do Today to Prepare for the Empty Nest

    Later today, I’ll be dropping my daughter off for the start of her junior year of college, and my wife and I will be entering the empty nest.  (Last week, we dropped our son off for his freshman year of college.)  While I’m sad to say goodbye to my kids knowing their return home will never quite be the same, I’m extremely excited by this next step in our journey together.

    Many people talk about the empty nest with negativity.  People imply that life is almost over when the kids leave the house.  Or people wonder out loud about how spouses will handle each other without the barrier and distraction of children.

    The empty nest doesn’t have to be a scary thing.  In fact, there are things you can do today to better prepare yourself for the empty nest.

    6 Things You Need to Do Today to Prepare for the Empty Nest

    1. Date your spouse while your kids are under your roof.  Many parents fall into the trap of making their parenting more important than their marriage.  This is a big mistake.  When we get married, we commit – we promise – to live life together for the rest of our lives.  When your kids leave the house (as they should at some point), you don’t want to find yourself living with a stranger.  Continue to get to know your wife.  Continue to have fun together.  Continue to grow closer.  Leanne and I have a weekly date night.  This has been a great way to help prepare us for the empty nest.
    2. Parent your children with purpose.  Too many parents make the mistake of trying to be their child’s best friend instead of people their mom or dad.  Also, many parents miss out on the importance of preparing their kids to leave the nest.  Talking to your kids about life after high school or college is important.  Kids need to understand the expectations you have for them as they get older.  Talking about these expectations, modeling expected behaviors, and establishing appropriate boundaries are all critical parts of parenting with purpose and of preparing for the empty nest.  Leanne and I have intentionally approached our parenting aiming our kids at the target and launching them well-equipped to leave the nest and contribute to this world.
    3. Invest in your marriage.  Beyond dating your spouse, you need to make regular investments in your marriage.  Find a mentor couple or two who are ahead of you in their married lives and take time to learn from them.  Spend money and take time to get away on a regular basis to connect with each other, to discuss goals, and to assess progress.  Go to a marriage retreat or conference (ie. Family Life Weekend to Remember) to learn from marriage experts.  Sign up in a marriage class like Dynamic Marriage (Leanne and I are getting ready to lead our next Dynamic Marriage class, and spots are still available).  Leanne and I have done a lot of things to invest in our marriage, and we will continue to do these things as we enter the empty nest.  Our marriage is worth it!
    4. Invest in yourself.  I’m a father, and I’m a husband.  I’m also me.  Our identities are complex.  While you will always be a father if you have kids, that part of your identity will change as the kids leave the nest.  It’s important to learn and grow (to STRETCH) as an individual.  I’m doing this through reading, through podcasts, and through mastermind groups.  In a few weeks, I’ll be launching the next semester of the Stretched Men Group – a mastermind group for men.  If you are a man, consider signing up.  This is a great way to invest in yourself and to help you prepare for the empty nest.
    5. Plan ahead.  Don’t get to the empty nest without plans for the future.  Leanne and I have been making plans for doing things together to have fun, to contribute to our church and community, and to position ourselves for further steps in our married lives.  We’ve created a “Dream Board” to document some of our bigger goals for the future.  If you want to prepare for the empty nest, plan ahead for what you will do once the kids leave the nest.
    6. Pray.  Don’t underestimate the importance of praying together about the future.  Pray for your kids.  Pray for their future spouses.  Pray for your spouse.  Pray for your future together.  God wants to be part of your marriage.  Pray that God would prepare you for the empty nest.

    When you take these steps, you too can enter the empty nest with enthusiasm, hope, and excitement.  Don’t wait for the kids to say goodbye, take action today to get ready for the empty nest!

    What action do you need to take to prepare for the empty nest?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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