ch 9

Stretch international cyber book club – Ch 9

Dear book clubbers,
Well. We have basically reached the end of our journey with this book. I’m grateful to all of you for participating and for sharing your thoughts with the group. I learned a lot along the way. I hope you did, too.
If you have a specific question for the author, please send it to me. I can’t guarantee that he’ll respond, but I’ll send them to him and see what happens.
Also, if you have any thoughts on the club experience or on anything related to the book or our journey together, please feel free to message me. I’d love to hear from you. If I get enough feedback, I’ll post a final round up.
Catch up here:
In Chapter 9, Workout, Scott Sonenshein provides us with information about how to implement stretching. It’s akin to the proverb, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” But (thanks Trevor Noah), there is a step in between. The man needs a fishing rod. This chapter contains fishing rods to help us implement the concepts set out in the book. I have copied liberally from the chapter in this summary.
In the introduction to the chapter, the author discusses the importance of a map to the health clinic in persuading students to get Tetanus shots. Shocking pamphlets were not enough. The map was the key to transforming intention into action. He then outlines a dozen exercises to help the reader transform the intention to stretch into actual stretching.
Exercise 1 – Just Say No. Shift our mindset to using existing resources better. What we do with what we have is more important, so reject the impulse to collect additional resources. Use what we have. Constraints can be liberating. 
Exercise 2 – Find a Sleeping Beauty. A sleeping beauty is a dormant resource. The value of a dormant resource is mostly recognized by outsiders who have different backgrounds and therefore notice a new use for a sleeping beauty resource. To discover sleeping beauties, ask: What personal and organizational resources have been shelved for years? As outsiders the same question. Then make a list of potential ways the dormant resource can help advance an objective, followed by at least one action you can take immediately to revive it.
Exercise 3 – Go Explore. Use the multi-context rule discussed in Chapter 4 (breadth of experience helps people stretch) in every day life. It doesn’t have to be a wholesale life change, it can be as simple as reading new publications, meeting new people, sitting at a different desk. If you can take time to go explore, do it! But the same effect can be achieved by assembling a group of outsiders. Just be sure to leave comfortable territory.
Exercise 4 – Take a Break (and Pay Less Attention). Mindless work gives the mind space to ruminate on the hard work. During a challenging project there are two things that can be done: Occasionally do easy or less demanding tasks and go on the clock by limiting the time spent on the challenging project.
Exercise 5 – Pick New Neighbors. To strengthen a stretch, we must first break free from the chase. Choose other people to hang out with who are stretchers and hang out with them for an hour a month.
Exercise 6 – Appreciate. When people are grateful they expand how they think about their resources often in ways that try to help others. They appreciate those resources making it easier to say no to other tempting but not necessary resources. Express gratitude by finding time once a week to write down five things in your life for which you are grateful.
Exercise 7 – Shop Your Closet. This is like identifying sleeping beauties, but closer to home. Find unused talents in coworkers and unused stuff that could be repurposed.
Exercise 8 – Plan Backward. Act first and plan afterward. Planning robs us of the benefits of careful reflection as we will simply move to the next step if the plan is working.
Exercise 9 – Scramble the Back Row. A chess reference. Sometimes the comfort of habit lulls us into complacency and we don’t think about how things might be better. Change small, simple things like members of a work team, location of a meeting, speak in person instead of emailing, or change work hours.
Exercise 10 – Make Midyear Resolutions. I didn’t realize that making a New Year’s resolution increases the success rate for making positive changes ten times. The midyear resolution lets us take stock of how our resolutions are going and set additional goals going forward.
Exercise 11 – Break It Down. Breaking down resources into their tiniest components allows us to discover new ways to use those components. Do this by posing two questions: 1. Can the resource be broken down further? And 2. Does the description of the broken-down part imply a use? 
Exercise 12 – Turn Trash Into Treasure. “At GM we view waste as a resource out of place.” Mobilize people to do new things. Keep a benefits diary listing key events, activities, or experiences. Next to each item write at least one unexpected benefit, which turns each item into a treasure.
At the end of the chapter, the author stresses that these exercises are not meant to be followed to a T. They are starting places and can be adjusted to fit your needs. I identified several that I can start using immediately. The important thing is that you get moving. Grab your fishing rods and haul in a feast!


  1. Great summary, Sarah!

    Of all these exercises, being grateful is one that I've practiced a lot of over the last several years. When I felt sad or afraid, a good boost of being grateful calmed me down and lifted my spirits. Being appreciative of the good things about my life has become 2nd nature to me (more or less) because I have seen how strong of an impact it has had on my ability to enjoy each day.

    We all have a long list (12 exercises!) of things we can try to help stretch our abilities and resources.

    Thank you, Tracey, for putting this cyber book club together! <3 <3 <3

  2. The best parts I took away from this last piece was to Never Give Up and Don't be afraid to try different things. If you feel it's not going your way, take a break, start again. I think this should be for everything we do!

    Tracey and everyone thanks so much for this. I enjoyed being a part of it and reminiscing about my store. I also like the analytical content!!!

  3. Thank you Sarah!

    I just read a quote at the end of the book that summed it all up for me:

    "Imagine how liberating it would be to stop worrying about what you don't have and instead appreciate what you do have." Yes, exactly!

    I related most to the gratitude part of this chapter, as I'm mindful of my blessings every single day. Even if I'm going through a hard time, appreciating my life is calming, as I remind myself of the good things.

    I also liked the "Shop Your Closet," as I'm constantly trying to declutter. I feel much better when things are in their place and simplified. Not saying they are, but I do work on this and will continue to do so.

    Making midyear resolutions hit home for me. I don't always make New Year's resolutions because I prefer to make them throughout the whole year. That way, I often reevaluate my life and identify parts I need to work on — and not just in January. Good for Sonenshein and his wife for their June tradition of exercising more and wearing their wedding clothes each year. There's no way I'd fit in my wedding dress now, haha!

    I loved the Dr. Seuss example of using just 50 words to tell a story. So great how limited resources didn't stop him from making up "Green Eggs and Ham."

    Thank you Tracey, for putting this together! It was so nice to meet you, fellow book clubbers!

  4. Sarah, you did a beautiful job summarizing this chapter, with a quick and easy reference of all that we've read. Well done!

    For me personally, learning to say no took years, but I have practiced enough now where I feel comfortable saying it, and my life improved. Not just from saying no to PTA and other organizations when my children were in school. But from well-meaning friends, and – the most difficult – family. Not necessarily just the immediate family, but I removed myself from any toxic relationship or situation.

    This was quickly followed by being mindful and grateful of all the simple things and not just the big ones. Which quickly makes for a happier life. "Want what you have", was something I never truly understood – but as I age, I recognize and embrace the wisdom that comes from experience, and to consciously decide to seek out the good, the happy, and if not happy – satisfying moments, taking time to appreciate one moment at a time, can make all the difference in the world. Change is hard. Stretching can be even harder, but cracking that shell and allowing ourselves to take a peek inside is growth and understanding.

    Tracey, thank you for yet another enriching experience found in community and one book at a time.
    Breathe Deep, Think Peace

  5. Sarah, great summary! I didn't except a list of tips when I saw the title of the chapter so this was a neat surprise.

    I didn't have any expectation when I joined this book discussion but I must say that I'm glad I did participate. Though the book is not as deep a goldmine as other books, it's more of a general store with good selections, the lessons will definitely be useful for my indie writing career.

    My most favorite is exercise #3 – Go explore. It's something I need to do more. Sometimes I still shy away from going to uncharted territories when the fear of the unknown and failure rears its ugly head. No venture, no risk. No risk, no glory!

    Thank you everyone and Tracey for this wonderful experience!

  6. Thank you Christina! For your great comments and for participating. Yes..I was struck as the author was discussing how ideas come to us when we have a mental break. I often get fresh ideas for my writing soon after I've stopped writing! When I'm walking, or getting ready for bed. This is great because I love fresh ideas..but often, since I don't walk with paper and pen, I've forgotten them before I get to write them down..LOL!! Gotta afix a note to my forehead that reminds me my phone is also a voice recorder!!

  7. Thanks Jeni..I, too, loved the author's story about how he and his wife celebrate their anniversary. How charming! And my wedding dress def would not fit right now so good for them! Yes, you touched on all my favorite ones…all good advice to return to over the years to explore different ways to Stretch. I think the one I plan to try, and sooner rather than later, is to just take off from my house one day with no plan in mind and see what happens. I used to explore like that..when I was much younger, but no longer do. I realize this is an excellent opportunity to find and experience new and fun parts of my community and beyond. Thanks Jeni, it was such a pleasure to have you join us this time around.

  8. Thank YOU Patty, for this lovely comment and also your participation. It was such a joy each week to read your comments and learn about your experiences. I JUST had the learning to say no conversation with my 19-year-old daughter..who, like all of us, doesn't want to say no and risk hurting peoples' feelings..oh…how I can relate! I told her it would be stellar if we weren't still having this conversation 40 years from now..stellar for her and her life, I mean! Anyway…thanks again Patty…for joining us.

  9. Yes Xeno!! Go I wrote above, that has become a new intention for me and I think it will end up dovetailing nicely into my self-care journey for this year. PLEASE..will you share with me some of your experiences as you explore?? I'd really love to know what they are. Thank you for your participation again this time around. You are an inspiration in so many ways.

  10. What I wanted to say about this chapter is contained in my comments above…but I want to say thank you again to ALL of you for participating in this adventure. I had no idea how this book would be or what we would learn. While it didn't engender the same type and depth of conversation we had around Brene's book, I have learned a lot. I plan on looking back over our review of these chapters to explore how this information can continue to enhance my life. What I know for sure is..knowing all of you here is a huge part of that. Thank you all, again. Wishing you much peace and happiness as you stretch into the future!

  11. Thanks for the great summary, Sarah. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and starting the process of learning to stretch with all of you! I love the actionable road map of this last chapter. Too often I read a book like this and my mind is so filled with awesome new information and ideas, I struggle to recall and implement any of it. These exercises are concise and (hopefully!) easy to remember. 🙂 I will definitely be adopting as many of them as I can. I have been doing daily gratitude lists for years, and this simple mindset shift has completely changed the way I show up and engage with the world. I have slowly been getting better at saying no in my personal life and to more projects, but I love the concept of applying it to the struggle of constantly trying to acquire more (resources, expertise, whatever) to the projects I'm currently working on! I will definitely try to change up my scenery and make new neighbors to stretch with. My favorite exercise, which I have never done but love the idea, is the mid-year resolutions. I always roll my eyes at New Year's Resolutions, and tell myself if I want to do something, why wait until the new year to start? Or berate myself for not sticking with it? But I interpret this as a way to have periodic check-ins more frequently than a year apart. Maybe it's monthly? Or weekly? Something tangible that I can see if I'm making incremental progress, and then when I reach a goal, to re-evaluate.

    Thank you Tracey for hosting and facilitating such an inspiring group and intriguing books! I'm sorry that I missed the last few chapters, had some life craziness going on. But back to wrap it up and looking forward to the next one!


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