Category Archives for "stretch"

Busyness – Are We Aiming at the Wrong Target

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.


How are you doing?


Unfortunately, busyness has become the badge the many people chose to wear. We think people will think we are important when they hear we are busy. Perhaps, we are too afraid to face the things we really need to face, so we get busy doing things that don’t really matter in the end.

If your goal is to be busy, you just might be aiming at the wrong target.

Tonight, I had a fantastic conversation with a group of men who are serious about becoming better husbands, better fathers, better leaders, and better men. We talked a lot about busyness.

I shared with them the experience I had last week when I realized I was overwhelmed. (If you read my blog posts over the past two weeks, you’ll get a feel for what I shared.)

I thrive on being busy. That’s what I keep telling myself.

In reality, I need a break from time to time, and I must learn to slow things down.

I was perusing an article on Lifehack in preparation for my conversation with these men tonight, and the article said “When you’re busy, your aren’t present.”

And one of the men said, “Busyness is the enemy of intimacy.”

Last week along with tonight’s conversation confirmed that I’m not alone.

I don’t want to be known as the guy who was always busy.

I want to be known as the man who was there – for my wife, for my family, for my friends.

I want to make sure I’m aiming at the right target.

If you’re interested in jumping into conversations like this one with other men, consider signing up for the Stretched Men Group. You can learn more at Once you’re on the website, signup to schedule a free (no obligation) phone call with me. I’d love to talk with you!

Are you too busy? What do you do to slow down? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

You Need Some Peer Pressure

People just don’t realize how much peer pressure, the desire for peer acclamation, influences them.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

We’ve all had conversations with our mothers that go something like this:

Me:  “Mom, I shaved my head.”

Mom:  “Why did you do that?”

Me:  “They made me do it!”

This is peer pressure, and it’s not always the best thing in the world.  In fact, I’m sure peer pressure has led us all to do some pretty stupid things – like the time I smoked my first cigarette – or like the time I gave the substitute teacher a hard time in junior high school – or like the time I ordered a bunch of food at the McDonald’s drive through and then drove away.  All these events were influenced by peers, and they aren’t the kinds of things that make me proud.

But what if peer pressure was actually a good thing?

What if our peers could actually get us to do things that we really should do?

One of the reasons I seek out accountability in my life (like from our GSAB – Guatemala Strategic Advisory Board) is because I know these people will actually have a positive impact on my life.  They will make me do it – the things I need to do.

Without accountability I may be able to accomplish a few things, but I know I’ll accomplish more of the things I should be accomplishing when I surround myself with people who will spur me on.

The best kind of accountability on a team is peer-to-peer. Peer pressure is more efficient and effective than going to the leader, anonymously complaining, and having them stop what they are doing to intervene.

Patrick Lencioni

“It is not good for man to be alone.  I will make a partner suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 my paraphrase)  From the very beginning of time, God placed people together to encourage and uplift each other.  Adam was not complete without his accountability partner, Eve.

“A chord of three strands is not easily broken.”  In Ecclesiastes (4:12 my paraphrase), Solomon recognizes the power of doing things with others.

“Don’t give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.  But spur each other on all the more as you see the day approaching.”  In Hebrews (10:24-25 my paraphrase), we’re reminded again of the power of community, the power of accountability that comes from hanging out with other people.

You and I need this kind of peer pressure in our lives.

Peer pressure is not always negative. Sometimes, it inculcates new hobbies, habits, attitudes health conscience or a strong urge to succeed amongst people and where this happens, it is positive.

Adeyemi Raphael Oluwamayowa

We need people who will spur us on.  We need people in our lives who will make us stronger.  We need people who will partner with us and make us better.

I hope you have this kind of peer pressure in your life.  If not, what are you doing about it?

How has peer pressure influenced you positively or negatively?  Share your thoughts in the comments.


In Pursuit of a Longer Attention Span – Full Focus Planner

“The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.”  May 14, 2015 Time article (You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish) by Kevin McSpadden

Did I lose you already?

Seriously, according to this study nearly three years ago, we suck at staying focused for very long.

I wonder what would happen if they did this study again today.  My guess is that the average attention span would now be even shorter than 8 seconds.

Did someone say “Squirrel”?

This year, a group of entrepreneurs I hang with every other week has committed to becoming more focused in our entrepreneurial pursuits.  Each of us has ordered Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner, and we are using it (along with the accountability in our group) to push forward with focus on the things we set out to accomplish in 2018.

I’ve always been a list driven person.  And people generally know me as a disciplined person, so I was a little skeptical about the need for someone else’s system to keep me on track.  I’ve been using Full Focus Planner for three weeks so far, and it’s been amazing to see my effectiveness increase.

In three weeks, I’ve made significant strides in my business pursuits, my entrepreneurial pursuits, and my personal pursuits.  I’ve made significant steps forward in developing a mentor program at work.  I’ve taken a big leap forward related to my book, Rooftop Reflections, and our family’s passion for Guatemala.  I’ve kicked off a “Year of Discipleship” with my son.  I’ve lost eleven pounds so far in 2018.  And I’ve already read six books in 2018 (way ahead of my 2017 total).  And these things just scratch the surface on what I’ve been able to accomplish so far in 2018.

In the midst of being focused, I’ve let a few things go.  Some of these things are temporarily on the back burner, and some things may be permanently removed from my normal activity.  You may have noticed, I’ve been absent from the blog world.  I’m hoping this is temporary as I love the community here, but my time away was important in getting me focused on the things I really want to accomplish this year, this quarter, this week, and even this day.  Generally, I’ve been getting to bed earlier this year.  This has provided more opportunity for reading and for the rest I need to really be effective.

Are you still with me?

John Lee Dumas defines focus as “Focusing on One Course Until Success.”  I get what he’s saying, but the reality is we have multiple things going on in our lives at the same time.  The Full Focus Planner has helped me narrow my focus to a few things, and it’s helped me successfully progress towards success in multiple areas of my life.

Overall, I believe the Full Focus Planner has actually helped to increase my attention span.

As a result of an increasing attention span, I have more focus on getting things accomplished, I have more focus on cultivating relationships that really matter, and I have “jumped the goldfish”.

(To get 15% of your own Full Focus Planner, click here.)

How’s your span of attention?  What has helped you stay focused?  How would your life be different if you had more focus?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Help for Your New Year

New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.

Charles Lamb

It’s New Year’s Day, and it’s a time when many are considering how they want to start the new year.  What targets will we set for the new year?  What resolutions will we make?  Will they last, or will they fade away as the days and weeks unveil themselves in 2018?

If you’re like me, your Facebook feed is filled with advertisements promoting planners, guides, books, and webinars that are “guaranteed to make you a new person in the new year.”  I’m not opposed to all of these things as I’m a very goal oriented person; however, it can be a real challenge to pick the “right” just for you.

As I’ve been thinking about my goals for 2018, I’ve been thinking about dreams and goals in the following areas:

  • Faith – I want to be intentional in my relationship with God.  I want to make my faith a priority in 2018, and I want it to be the underlying current for the rest of my hopes and dreams.
  • Family – I want my marriage and my parenting to be all they can be, and I want them to have an impact that far exceeds the walls of my house.
  • Fitness – I need to be in good shape (and I don’t mean pear-shaped – although I like pears) if I’m going to be all I can be.  Dropping a few pounds and keeping a consistent exercise routine are essential for me to succeed in this area this year.
  • Function – This relates to my job.  I want to grow in my leadership and skill, and I want to do whatever I can to help my team members, my customers, and the company succeed in 2018.  I also want to make sure I’m thinking long-term in my approach to my function (my work).
  • Founder – You probably are getting the picture.  My goal areas for 2018 all start with the letter ‘F’.  When I say founder, I mean my entrepreneurial pursuits.  I have goals related to my writing, my speaking, my mastermind group for men, and other things I’m working on outside of my job.
  • Financial – In order to reach my dreams of being completely debt free including my mortgage and of being prepared for retirement, it’s important to set financial goals for this year.  Leanne and I are preparing to have both of our kids in college later this year which means this goal area requires extra attention to make sure we thrive through these years.
  • Fun – Yes, I said fun.  We can’t forget fun when we set our goals.  This means vacations, weekend trips, family outings, and even individual retreats.

As you consider your goals for 2018, I don’t want you to feel lost.  I’d also hate to see you let apathy set in as you enter the new year.  It’s important to have a target at which we can aim.

“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”  Zig Ziglar

I’d love to help you sort out your goals for 2018.  In fact, I have a framework that will help you STRETCH in the new year.  Because I believe you aren’t really living if you aren’t stretching and growing.

To help you get off on the right foot in 2018, I’ve created a 7 Week Stretch Challenge.  When you sign up for the Challenge, you’ll get a weekly email from me that will teach you some important concepts to help you STRETCH into the new year.  Each week, you’ll have one simple concept to work on that will help lay the groundwork for a better you in 2018.

You have a choice to make.

You can proceed as usual.  When you make this choice, you should expect a usual outcome.

Or you can take the challenge and STRETCH yourself.  You can be a new you at the end of the year.

What’s your choice?

To sign up for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge, click here (or sign up below).

What goals are you setting for 2018?  Share your goals in the comments below.

Think Enriched – How to Stretch Yourself to Become Your Best

While it may seem small, the ripple effects of small things is extraordinary.

Matt Bevin

This week, I had the honor of being a guest on Amy Robles’ podcast – Think Enriched with Amy Robles.

We talked about the Stretched Men Group, Rooftop Reflections, and about becoming EXTRAORDINARY!

Do me a favor, and give the episode a listen.  (Then consider subscribing to Amy’s podcast.)

What have you been up to this week?  Share your experience in the comments.

Inertia Might Be Messing Me Up

“The focus of Lesson 1 is Newton’s first law of motion – sometimes referred to as the law of inertia. Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

Does it ever feel like you can’t stop moving?

Even when you lie down to sleep your brain keeps going.

We’ve conditioned ourselves to go, go, go, and the more I experience life it seems like inertia might just be our enemy sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a person of action. I want to be busy getting things done – things that matter.

Here’s the problem: We are also directed to “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

How can we be still when everything in us seems to be leaching forward?

The discipline of stillness takes intentionality. It takes purpose. It takes an all out resistance to our natural tendency to move.

According to Newton’s 1st Law of Motion, we actually need an unbalanced force to stop us or to change our direction.

I’ve experienced these kinds of unbalanced forces before. Like the time my wife was hospitalized leaving me with two young kids to care for while running around between home, the hospital, and work. Or like the time when I received a call from my Dad telling me my Mom had been diagnosed with “Early Onset Alzheimer’s Progression.”

Sometimes these unbalanced forces can seem catastrophic at the time. When we step back, these might actually be the things we need to re-calibrate us – to cause us to stop, to think, to be still.

Recently, I have felt inertia taking over in my life. Some of it is fantastic. But some things in my life require that unbalanced force to force me into a better pattern or position.

I’m not waiting for something catastrophic; I want to take the right next to step starting now. I want to slow down and even stop to take in life, to connect with my Creator, and to make sure I’m on the right path.

How about you? What helps you slow down when it seems like life is moving at a breakneck speed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

To Impact the World in a BIG Way You Have to Start SMALL

“I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company”

The New Seekers

I want to have a BIG impact on the world!

I want to put a stop to bullying.

I want to see an end to all illnesses brought on as a result of poor water quality.

I want to build a house for every widow in need.

I want to provide homes, hopes, and father figures for all the orphans in the world.

And I want there to be peace on earth – all over the earth!

It seems like I want a lot of things.  And these things seem so overwhelming when I start thinking about them.  After all, how can one person fix all of this?

I was talking to my Dad the other day on the way home from work, and we started talking about the desire to make the world a better place.  We also talked about the GIGANTIC goals that some people seem to put down to solve the worlds problems.  I think it’s good to dream big, but I also think it’s important to think small.

I truly want to build one hundred houses (or more) for widows in Guatemala.  One hundred houses don’t happen all at once, and they certainly don’t happen my accident.

One hundred houses starts one house at a time.  And one house starts one nail at a time.

Deep down inside, I know you want to change the world.  You want to make a real lasting difference that will outlive you.  In order to make this kind of impact on the world, we must learn to take one step at a time.

Andy Stanley is known for saying “Do for one what you wish you could do for everything.”

Don’t let your big dreams overwhelm you.  Start small, and take one step at a time.

One more thing.  Don’t wait for the PERFECT time to start.  Get started right now!

What small step do you need to take RIGHT NOW to make the world a better place?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Stretched This Week … (week ending 04.02.2017)

We take in so much information throughout the week.  If we don’t review this information from time to time, we’ll forget it.  I want to make the most of the things that stretched me this week.  This starts by taking note of the things I come across each week.  Then it takes intentional time to review these notes.  Finally, great information is meant to be shared.  Here are some of the things that stretched me this week:

Quotes that stretched me this week:

“If God wanted us to fly, He would have given us tickets.”  Mel Brooks [via Manlio Mannozzi]

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”Archilochus [via]

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.  You wait and watch and work – you don’t give up.”Anne Lamott [via]

“We need to watch out for the resistance that will wnat us to stay in the past, trying to collect a debt that will never be paid.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan –]

“Christ’s love and grace will not produce guilt or shame, but it will fill us [with] a feeling of great responsibility.”  Maile Smucker [via]

“To the extent that we surrender our tendencies to condemn others, and are able instead to forgive, we will experience the fullness of forgiveness from God.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan –]

“Being present is better than trying to be everywhere else.”  Leslie Samuel [via]

“if you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor.”  Dorothy Day [via]

“When doing public ministry, you need more private time with the Lord.”  Sean McFeely

“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you.  If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”  Zig Ziglar [via]

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  Dr. Seuss [via]

“[An attitude of forgiveness] releases us from a life of keeping emotional scorecards and insisting that everything be fair and leads to a life of love, grace, freedom, and forgiveness.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan –]

“To forgive is very difficult.  It means letting go of something that someone “owes” us.  But forgiveness brings freedom from the past; it brings freedom from anyone who has hurt us.  To forgive means to write it off.  Let it go.  Tear up the account.  It is to render the account cancelled.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan –]

“If you don’t take the first step, you’ll never get to the second step.”  Zig Ziglar

“Forgiveness through Jesus’ death is God’s solution; it rescues us from our hopelessness and restores our connection with God.”  Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan –]

“Eat a live from first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”  Mark Twain

Scripture that stretched me this week:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  Hebrews 6:10

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Psalm 18:2

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”  Matthew 16:26

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.  Psalm 116:1-2

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.  James 2:12-13

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Matthew 5:43-44

“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:4

What I’m reading now:

Eat That Frog!  by Brian Tracy

Articles that challenged me:

What Is A Mastermind? (And What It Isn’t) by Ellory Wells

What Is A “Hot Seat” In A Mastermind Group? by Ellory Wells

Great Responsibility: Maile’s Thoughts on Intervening After Seeing a Mother Hit Her Little Girl by Maile Smucker [at]

If you are looking to STRETCH yourself, sign up for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge.  It’s FREE!

What STRETCHED you this week?  Share your observations and thoughts in the comments below.

Stretched This Week … (week ending 03.26.2017)

We take in so much information throughout the week.  If we don’t review this information from time to time, we’ll forget it.  I want to make the most of the things that stretched me this week.  This starts by taking note of the things I come across each week.  Then it takes intentional time to review these notes.  Finally, great information is meant to be shared.  Here are some of the things that stretched me this week:

Quotes that stretched me this week:

“There is a right and a wrong in the universe, and that distinction is not hard to make.”  Superman [via]

“We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows.”Tim Keller [via]

“Nothing promotes reconciliation more than forgiveness.  To forgive someone means to let him or her off the hook or to cancel a debt owed.  When we refuse to forgive someone, we still want something from that person, and even if it is revenge that we want, it keeps us tied to the person forever.”Dr. John Townsend and Dr. Henry Cloud [via Forgiveness Reading Plan –]

Scripture that stretched me this week:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

What I’m reading now:

No Excuses!  The Power of Self-Discipline  by Brian Tracy

Videos that stretched me:


Articles that challenged me:

How To Really Support Your Church by Jason Raitz

Articles I posted this week:

Are You Intentionally Busy?

If you are looking to STRETCH yourself, sign up for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge.  It’s FREE!

What STRETCHED you this week?  Share your observations and thoughts in the comments below.

Stretched This Week … (week ending 03.19.2017)

We take in so much information throughout the week.  If we don’t review this information from time to time, we’ll forget it.  I want to make the most of the things that stretched me this week.  This starts by taking note of the things I come across each week.  Then it takes intentional time to review these notes.  Finally, great information is meant to be shared.  Here are some of the things that stretched me this week:

Quotes that stretched me this week:

“Success leaves clues, but failure leaves a blueprint.”  Cory Ellerbroek

“We can live 40 days without food, eight days without water, four minutes without air, but only a few seconds without hope.”Unknown via [Bill Grandi]

“Never stop creating work that matters and impacting people along the way.”Adam Smith

Scripture that stretched me this week:

“But you are not to be like that.  Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”  Luke 22:26

What I’m reading now:

Wealth:  Is It Worth It? by S. Truett Cathy

Videos that stretched me:

Articles that challenged me:

The Busier You Are, The More You Need Quiet Time by Justin Talbot-Zorn [via Harvard Business Review]

Who You Surround Yourself With Matters by Ellory Wells

How to Be Content in the Midst of the Struggle by Kent Sanders

If you are looking to STRETCH yourself, sign up for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge.  It’s FREE!

What STRETCHED you this week?  Share your observations and thoughts in the comments below.