Elastics Stretch

I remember when my cousin Paula became a teacher, she was determined to incorporate more than one way of explaining things into her lessons. It came from a memory of not understanding a math concept, and the teacher simply repeating what they’d previously said. Paula didn’t need repetition — she needed a different explanation.

In my new book ELASTIC: Stretching without snapping or snapping back (which I am delighted to announce will be out in late January 2023), I explain the concept of elastic leadership in three different ways: using a metaphor, an acronym and a series of conversations. I hope readers will feel a connection to at least one of those approaches to finding their zone of optimal elasticity.

I plan to give you a taste of ELASTIC over the next while in the blog, starting with the metaphor of how our ability to show up at our best in the world is like an elastic.

So, here’s the Captain Obvious moment for today: elastics stretch.

Elastics are stretchy by definition and by function. Elastic materials are considered to be elastic because of their ability to extend or compress, then to return to their original shape. They are useful to us because of that — they can expand around things larger than themselves and hold things together. (Think broccoli, piles of mail, waistbands…)

But picture a rubber band just sitting in a drawer. Unstretched, elastics are useless.

This September, when I returned to my office after three months away, I grabbed a rubber band that had been sitting on my desk. When I gave it a tug, it snapped. It had become brittle with lack of use and was no longer able to stretch. Instead, it was in pieces in my hand.

I trust the point is clear: to be useful, we need to stretch. When we don’t, we fail to fulfill our intended purpose, or worse, we become too fragile to stretch at all.

Might there be areas in which your contribution is needed, but you are under-delivering because you’re unwilling to stretch a little?

Not too far or too fast though. But that’s for next week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *