Leaders Stretch and Will You

It’s pretty inescapable that individuals as leaders, and organizations as leaders . . . stretch.  A couple examples.  Amazon the ultimate elastic company just keeps stretching with almost daily experimentation – from incorporating Whole Foods to continually new advertising on its boxes to Prime Day (I was a victim of this modern day variant of the K-mart blue-light special!).  Netflix we-have-to-take-more-risks-CEO-Reed-Hastings has repeatedly disrupted his own business model. And Elon Musk? Like him or not his ceaseless imagination amazes.

Our family have been Kaiser Permanente subscribers for 7 years, and we just shake our heads at the constant ways they make health care delivery new, patient-friendly, and research-based. Nearly every visit – whether to their website or to their offices – reveals something “new and better.”  Meanwhile – I shall not name names – so many of our favorite institutions bump along, as if they have never heard of the word disruption, let alone the names Amazon or Google or Netflix.

So, here’s my question:  What are you doing to stretch?  And my Nike-like challenge:  Just Do It.

I’m inspired by the 40 students I have taught over the last two weeks in a 14-month program that will certify them Masters in Public Administration. The vast majority are in their 30s or 40s, taking a complete (or partially on-campus) retreat from their careers.  They are not being required to do this.  Nearly half have traveled far from other countries. Most work in either the public sector or the non-profit sector. They are not rich.  They remind me they are spending a lot of money.  And what is so powerful is that they – like the two first MPA cohorts before them – are truly reinventing themselves! They are gaining ideas, perspective, amazing new colleagues and energy. 

What about YOU?  What have you or will you happily spend on your children’s or even grandchildren’s degrees, studies abroad, or enrichment programs?  Now what would you spend for yourself?  I suspect your spending on others dwarfs what you would spend on you. Yet we are living in this time of extraordinary change, lifelong learning, and the growing importance of meaningful networks.  What could you do in the year ahead to stretch, reinvent, challenge, inspire, and otherwise motivate yourself to learn and grow?

Stretch is an absolute necessity if you are to

Lead with your best self.


(In the past I have run some multi-day retreat programs to help people stretch, rejuvenate and connect with great leaders.  I have no current plans to offer such a program, but let me know if you’d be interested and I’ll start a list and stay in touch.)