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April 22, 2014

On Track is a fantastic, quick read!  The stories are inspiring, the lessons life changing and the motivation undeniable!  Jon will have you hooked from the very first page!  The only challenge to reading this book is wanting to stop to apply its principles in your life immediately!  I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to get or keep their life On Track!”

Mark Sieverkropp, entrepreneur, speaker, author of Project:  Success (

In one week, On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field will be officially released.  Initially, On Track will be available on Amazon as an eBook and in paperback.

This week, I’m spending time writing guest posts, doing podcast interviews, and answering questions about the book.  If you are interested in joining the On Track Launch Team, it’s not too late.  I am looking for people who are interested in reviewing the book on Amazon and on their blog.  I’m looking for people who will promote the book via their social media channels.  I’m open for podcast interview opportunities and other creative ways to get the word out about On Track.  If you have an idea and want to help out with the launch, send me an email at, so we can connect.

How are you being stretched to get part of your life on track?



I spent most of the day on Saturday at the track helping out at the 7th Annual Viking Track & Field Invitational hosted by my daughter’s track team.  The day was absolutely beautiful and perfect for a track meet.

I was recruited to help out with checking in runners and handing out lane assignments before each of the races.  With twenty-five teams participating, it was a pretty busy job.  I had a great time working with the other “clerks” who had also volunteered in an effort to support their kids and the track team.

A minor mix-up happened at the end of the day that resulted in a relay team being assigned a heat and lane that didn’t necessarily match up with their seeding time.  The coach of the team came over to express his frustration with the situation, and I initially jumped in to explain what may have happened.

Eventually, I sent the coach to the officials tent at the finishing line.  I did not hear from the coach again, but our team’s track coach came over to find out what have happened at check in.  I told the coach how I made a mistake checking in the team after the team was late in checking in for the race.  I took partial blame for the problem, but I pushed it back at the team for failing to check in on time.  After I explained the story, our coach said something like, “That was our fault.  We screwed up.”

The coach didn’t push blame on the other team.  He took responsibility.  And he moved on.

What a great example!

So often when confronted with a problem, we seek to shift blame.  We don’t want to take responsibility.  We are typically looking to blame someone else.  We say things like, “I didn’t check them in correctly, BUT they were late checking in.”

It’s time we took responsibility.  We must learn to take the BUT out of our responses.  My story should have simply been, “I didn’t check them in correctly.”  Period.  No BUT….

I should have apologized to the coach and sent him to the officials tent (the officials were the only ones who could change the lane assignments).  Mistakes happen.  We need to take responsibility for our mistakes.  And we need to move on.

Hopefully, this didn’t ruin the day for the coach and his team.  It was a beautiful day for a track meet, and the rest of the meet seemed to go very well.

Do you struggle with shifting blame?  How can you take responsibility today?  What suggestions do you have for taking the BUT out of your responses?


8 more days until the release of On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field!



Enjoy the Journey

April 10, 2014 — 13 Comments

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. 

Greg Anderson

Last night, I posted a picture of the proof copy of my new book, On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.

It came in the mail yesterday.  Actually, I received four copies.

Part of the self publishing process includes an opportunity to review an actual copy of your book before it goes public.  Honestly, I’m not sure I knew this was part of the experience until recently.

Writing a book has brought about a lot of new experiences.  I am doing my best to enjoy each aspect of this journey.  Believe me, I’m looking forward to the actual book being complete and available to the public, but there is so much that happens along the way.  I don’t want to miss it.

Most of life is the same way.

We have goals.  We have dreams.  We have targets.

One day, we’ll get there.  We’ll reach our dreams.  We’ll achieve many of our desires.  We may also miss out on reaching some of our targets and goals.

But there is a lot that happens between now and the achievement of our dreams.  These happenings aren’t meant to be missed.  They are meant to be experienced and enjoyed.  To quote Billy Joel (sorry David), “This is the time to remember, ’cause it will not last forever.”

Enjoy the journey!

What’s happening on the journey to your dream?  How are you making the most of the experience?

The excitement is building.  In just over two weeks, my first book will be released.  It’s been an exciting journey so far.  The proof copies of the book are on the way to may house this week.  It hardly seems possible that the book will become a reality.

It has been exciting to answer people’s questions about the book.  I really appreciate the excitement that others have for this project.

On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field will get you thinking.  It will encourage you to get out of the rut you’re in, and it will help you get On Track!

I’d like to offer a special sneak peek at the introduction of the book.  If you’d like to get an early look, sign up for the Stretched newsletter today.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up. the Stretched Newsletter.  I will send out the On Track Introduction as part of the Newsletter this Wednesday to all subscribers.  I promise not to spam you or to send too many e-mails to you.  The Stretched Newsletter is simply a place to get a little extra STRETCHING content from time to time.  It’s also a place where you can occasionally get early word on new things coming to The Stretched Blog and The Stretched Community.  If you want to get a copy of the On Track Introduction, click here for more information on how to sign up.

The On Track Launch Team is growing.  It’s not too late to sign up for this.  Launch Team members get an early preview copy of the book in exchange for a review and help in promoting On Track.

How is your life on track?  Where do you need help getting on track with your life?

Each week on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

(I’m always looking for Ice Breaker question ideas.  If you have an idea, send me an email at  If I use your question, I’ll give you credit and share your links.)

Question:  If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

My Answer:  Honestly, until a few years ago, I never imagined writing a book.  When I was in first grade, I wrote a book about the colors of the rainbow.  I think I still have it hiding in a storage bin in my basement.

I’m excited to be very close to releasing my first “official” book which is still on schedule to release on April 22, 2014.  The book is called On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.  This book isn’t just for the runner or athlete.  I believe it provides practical life lessons we all can embrace.  If you’re stuck in a rut or need a little guidance in finding your way, I’m hoping this book will help you get On Track!

The reality is I have another book in the works.  I’m not sure of the title yet, but the book is about developing a mission mindset.  I’m excited to share my own story, to provide practical advice, and to encourage readers to become mission minded right where they are.  It will be exciting to see how this unfolds.

Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.) And keep STRETCHING!

Also don’t forget to sign up for the Stretched newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up.  Subscribers will get a special deal on the upcoming release of On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.

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Here are the highlights from March 2014.  Thanks to everyone who read along and commented.  Your readership and participation in the daily discussions are what make The Stretched Community.  Thank you!

Overall, traffic was up dramatically from February (25.15%).  Traffic was up 8.41% compared to a year ago.  The top 10 posts included two posts from 2012, one post from 2011, and one post from 2013.  If you missed any of these posts, I hope you’ll go and check them out now by clicking below.  The post with the most engagement was a post related to my book project from March 6, 2014 – Help Me Book A Book Cover Design.

Top 10 Posts:

  1. Help Me Book A Book Cover Design March 6, 2013 (225)
  2. Ten Things Every Small Group Leader Should Know  March 7, 2012 (125)
  3. Ten Reasons To Attend FamilyLife Weekend To Remember February 27, 2012 (90)
  4. I’m Losing My Patients – 6 Ways To Rediscover Patience  April 2, 2013 (88)
  5. Second Chances – Does Pete Rose Deserve A Second Chance? March 11, 2014 (75)
  6. I’m Turning Into My Dad March 10, 2014 (73)
  7. Book Release – Learning To Release / A Call For Your Help March 12, 2014 (70)
  8. The Power of the Next Question May 20, 2011 (69)
  9. On Track Book Launch Update March 24, 2014 (67)
  10. Ten Things I’ve Learned About Writing A Book March 25, 2014 (66)

Top 10 Commenters:

As promised at the beginning of the month, I have randomly chosen someone from the top commenters list to receive a copy of Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage by Allison Vesterfelt.  The winner of this book is…(drum roll)…Heidi Bender.  Congrats to Heidi!

For the month of April, I’ll be giving away a copy of Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Bob GoffThis month, the winner will be chosen randomly from the top 10 commenters.

Thanks to each and everyone for reading and for commenting.  I’m looking forward to April with The Stretched Community!  The month of April will include more STRETCHING posts.  If you’re interested in guest posting here, leave a comment to connect with me.  April should be another great month!

How was your month?  If you’re a blogger share a link to your top post in the comments?  What was your favorite Stretched post this month?  How were you STRETCHED in March?

In case you’re interested, here are a few other interesting stats about March (based on Google Analytics):

  • Visits – Increased 20.15%
  • Unique Visitors – Increased 25.04%
  • Pageviews – Increased 22.92%
  • Pages Per Visit – Increased 1.80%
  • Average Visit Duration – Decreased 23.38%
  • Bounce Rate – Decreased 3.18%
  • New Visits – Increased 0.90%

Don’t forget to sign up for the Stretched newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up.  On April 22, 2014, I plan to release a book called On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.  All subscribers to the Stretched newsletter will get it for a discount on the eBook of On Track which will also be available in paperback.  So sign up, if you’re not already on the subscriber list.  The newsletter goes out periodically with extra STRETCHED content.)

Yesterday in the lunch room at work, I was eating lunch with one of my co-workers.  I was in the middle of a very busy day, and my quick lunch provided a brief opportunity to catch my breath before heading into the afternoon.  We talked about work for a few minutes and about one of our customers.  I was in somewhat of a zone as I thought through my morning which consisted of non-stop meetings from 7AM until 12:30PM.  My co-worker turned the conversation to another subject when he asked me what I did in my free time.

I had to chuckle.  This isn’t a question I get very often at work.  So I asked him if he really wanted to know.

He nodded, and I proceeded to tell him that I was getting ready to release my first book.

This opened up a broader conversation.  I showed him a picture of the book cover, and he began asking more questions.  After several minutes, the conversation concluded with a request for an autographed copy of my book.

My book is called On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.  The book is an intersection of my love for running, my interest in writing, and my faith.

I’m learning that my book will open doors to conversations I may never have had before.  I’m excited for these new opportunities.  I pray I’ll be prepared and open to each new conversation and opportunity that results from the book.

You do interesting things as well.  You have a story worth sharing.

Make the most of the opportunities to share your story.

You could change someone’s life!

What do you like to do in your free time?  How have you made the most of the opportunities to share your story?

On Track will be sold on starting April 22, 2014, and there will be a special discount available for subscribers to the Stretched Newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up for the newsletter.

On Tuesday, April 22, 2014, I’ll be releasing my first book, On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.  It’s an exciting time for me as I pursue this goal and dream.  I’m certainly not an expert on the whole process of writing a book, but I’ve learned some things along the way.  Here’s a glimpse into what I’ve learned so far.

Ten Things I’ve Learned About Writing a Book

  1. Writing a book is possible.  I never thought about writing a book.  After all, I’m an engineer.  After I started blogging, people started asking me, “When are you going to write a book?”  I never thought it was possible for me.  Crazy how things change.  Now, I’m getting ready to release my first book project, and I have another one in the works.  If it’s possible for me, it’s possible for you too!
  2. Writing a book is scary.  Once I started thinking about writing a book, fear began to grip me.  Do I really have what it takes to write a book?  Will anyone really read a book I write?  I guess the second question still has me wondering a bit.  I also fear what people might say about my book.  A little fear may be healthy, but I’m learning to have courage as I move forward with my first book project.
  3. Writing a book takes time.  I started working on a book about short-term missions.  I created an outline, and I sent it out to a few trusted friends for feedback.  I received some great feedback, but I realized along the way that I needed to try something a little smaller before I ventured into this topic.  I shifted gears to my current book project, On Track.  It has taken time to pull everything together, to come up with new material, to proofread it, to re-write it, to re-write it again, and to get it ready for publishing.  A book doesn’t just happen.  It takes time to write a book.
  4. Writing a book takes a community.  I have been so blessed to have friends and contacts who have helped me with things like cover design, editing, proofreading, and endorsements.  Now, I’m developing a launch team to help with releasing the book to the public in the next few weeks.  A successful book release definitely requires a community.
  5. Writing a book requires a thick skin.  I’m learning how important it is to get honest feedback.  There have been a few people who have challenged me with feedback on this project.  Their feedback has required me to consider changing things like the cover or like my approach to my topic.  The feedback has also forced me to reconsider things like my release date and my release strategy.  As a first time author, I’m especially appreciative of the feedback – even the feedback which was hard to hear.
  6. Writing a book is fun.  So far, I’ve had a blast with this first book project.  The process has tapped into the creative side of my brain.  I’m excited to see what happens in the coming weeks as my book goes public.
  7. Writing a book is a learning experience.  I am learning new things every day about writing and publishing a book.  I’ve learned about sizing for cover art.  I’ve learned about the importance of editing.  I’ve learned about formatting.  I’m learning about ISBN.  The list goes on.  When I get through this experience, it feels like I could write another book just about the experience of writing a book.  I’m looking forward to using what I’m learning on my next book project.
  8. Writing a book is addictive.  Despite all the time and hard work, I’m excited to keep going.  For me, there is something therapeutic about writing, and another book project seems like a natural next step.
  9. Writing a book provides new opportunities.  When people hear that I’m writing a book, they have a lot of questions.  My book project has provided many new opportunities for conversation.  I get to share with people about my book.  I share what it’s about.  I share why I wrote it.  As the book approaches the release date in April, I’m sure I’ll have more opportunities.  This is exciting!
  10. Writing a book is not what it’s all about.  From the list above, you would think that this is all I do and all I think about.  While the book writing process has consumed a lot of my time and thoughts, it’s not the only thing.  I’m learning that it’s important to keep the whole process in perspective.  Life is still happening around me, and I need to participate.  Writing at times can suck you in.  It will consume you if you let it.  While there is definitely a need for concentrated efforts when you are writing a book, it is also important to stay in touch with the rest of your life while you write.  I have a wife and two kids.  I don’t want to miss out on them and their activities.  If you plan to write a book, you have to find your balance.

Have you ever thought about writing a book?  What’s holding you back from writing your book?

Or have you ever written a book?  What have you learned about writing a book? 

On Track will be sold on, and there will be a special discount available for subscribers to the Stretched Newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up.

On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field is coming together.  I wanted to give you a little update on the launch.

The book front cover design is complete, and the editor returned the manuscript to me on Friday.  In addition, the book has picked up a few endorsements.  Here is what people are saying so far about On Track:

“This small book packs a big punch. When Jon writes about his races, I feel as though I am there. He draws me in and then promptly gives me a life lesson to take away. Whether you’re an athlete now, have one hidden inside, or have never so much as laced up your running shoes, read Jon’s book to discover how to get your life ‘on track.’”  Matt McWilliams, entrepreneur, leadership guru, author of The Power of Gratitude (

 ”This well-written, easy-to-read book is a great reference for any runner.  But it’s so much more.  Jon Stolpe teaches us great strategies for winning the race, both on and off the track.  This little book is packed with lessons for runners and lessons for a life of faith.  Take an hour to read this book.  I guarantee that you’ll be motivated to run the good race.”   Dan Erickson, musician, teacher, author of A Train Called Forgiveness and At The Crossing Of Justice and Mercy (

 “I have known Jon for over 7 years, and followed his blog since its start. I find his unique perspective on life so very intriguing, and refreshing. It is not often that you find a writer who integrates his faith, his hobbies, his family – his life – into his writing. ‘Get out and live your life’ is not just a catchy quote from his book. Jon shares how life can be lived as a race that can be run at your own speed, but it’s a race you need never run alone. With his faith out in front, On Track, is a great example of how to live a life with God right by your side. No matter if you are starting, finishing or just trying to get in the race, you will find something inspiring to take with you.”  Diane Karchner, Life Coach, author of Losing the Mask (

 “Jon is a runner. At times a reluctant runner, but that’s what makes On Track so enjoyable. It’s not a book written by someone who never struggles or has all the answers. It’s a book written by a real person who has learned a thing or two about how similar a relationship with God is to running. Jon includes great quotes, Biblical insight, and personal experience into a book that can speak to the seasoned or rookie runners in life.”  Rob Shepherd, pastor, author of Even If You Were Perfect Someone Would Crucify You (

I’m excited and anxious to release the book.  I had originally planned to launch the book on Monday, March 31, 2014.  After careful consideration and timely advice, I’m moving the launch date back to Tuesday, April 22, 2014.  This will provide more opportunity to strategically release the book.  If you’d like to be part of my launch team and pick up a preview copy of the book, let me know.  You can e-mail me at, and I will send out a preview copy to you later this week.  I am looking for people who can read the book, write a review on and possibly on their blog the week of April 21-27, 2014, and promote the book to their friends, family, and social media contacts.

On Track will be sold on, and there will be a special discount available for subscribers to the Stretched Newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up.

As I finalize my first book which I’m hoping will be released on March 31, I’m finalizing the acknowledgements portion of the book.  For any author, this is place where we write a thank you note to those who have made a book project possible.  There are many people I’ll be thanking (you’ll have to pick up a copy of the book though to read the list).

The exercise of writing acknowledgments is a great way to appreciate others.  I’m learning it’s a little harder than one might think to write this section of a book.  I want to make sure I thank the people who really made it happen, and I certainly don’t want to miss anyone.  If I really think about it, I could probably fill a book with thank you notes for people who have made a difference in my life.  (Maybe that’s an idea for another book in the future.)

Next week is the final week of the 90 Day Thank You Note Challenge.  Before we close out the challenge, I’d like to challenge you to write an acknowledgement section for your future book.  Use the time to express your gratitude for those who have changed your world for the better.  When you’re done, make a copy of your acknowledgements and send it out to those you appreciate.  I think you’ll make someone’s day.

Share a few sentences from your acknowledgements in the comments below.

Stay tuned for more details about the release of On Track – Life Lessons from the Track & Field.  I’ll be posting more information in the coming days.