Need to Stretch? {Mark the Moment Series #4}

This is part 4 of 5 posts, How to Mark the Moment. It’s based on Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s book, The Power of Moments. This week we look at element 3, “Moments of Insight.”

Stretch Out-Insight

Element 3, Moments of Insight

Want to Be Stretched?

  • Sometimes we wish our pants would stretch after a heavy dinner.
  • Or that a family member would stretch their political views.
  • Or that we could stretch past our same old fears.

So how can we stretch others or ourselves?

Stretching often comes from moments of insight, a third element in The Power of Moments.

Moments of Insight – Deliver realizations and transformations.

But we can’t exactly create an insight; we can’t manufacture an epiphany.

However, we can set up the environment for an insight to happen.

“Often, what looks like a moment of serendipity is actually a moment of intentionality.”

If you’ve ever wanted someone to understand your point of view, but you can’t get it across, or wanted an aha! moment to help you make a decision, here are some tips that can help you.

To Stretch Others, Show Something

If there’s something you want another person to see, telling them doesn’t always work. They need to see it for themselves.

Authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath suggest this:

Set up an environment so the person trips over the truth.

First, make the problem really clear. People need to understand a problem before they’ll look at the solution. When a group of researchers wanted a remote village in India to understand that their poor sanitation practices were creating sickness, they staged a walk with the villagers to all the places they used as public restrooms.

They had to discover the problem themselves to believe it.

Second, only through a series of activities along the way, did the villagers finally see for the first time how devastating their hygiene habits were, and were thus open to a solution.

Likewise, if we have something we want to teach, we also would be more successful if we could do this:

Design activities so they’ll catch their foot (or brain) on something and then stumble over the truth themselves.

Don’t just share findings; replicate the discovery.

To Stretch Yourself, Take a Risk

But if we’re the ones in the dark, we can’t replicate the discovery if we don’t yet know what it is.

So how can we stretch ourselves? The Heath brothers suggest this:

Put yourself in a situation that exposes you to a risk of failure.

We’re more likely to have an aha! moment outside our comfort zone. We don’t grow from only head knowledge; we need to take action.

“Action leads to insight more often than insight leads to action.”

We don’t have to do it alone. We can invite other people to push us outside ourselves: trainers, coaches, mentors, pastors. They can hold us to higher standards, assure us when we doubt, give us direction and support when we’re uncertain.

“What may be counterintuitive is that self-insight rarely comes from staying in our heads. Research suggests that reflecting or ruminating on our thoughts and feelings is an ineffective way to achieve true understanding.”

But ultimately the decision is still ours:

To grow, push toward risk, not away.

Taking risks don’t always pay off in the way we’d like. The result may not be a success as we’d normally define it. But even a failure can teach us something.

“Better to take a risk, try something, and distill the answer from experience rather than from navel-gazing.”

This story is shared in The Power of Moments about a child remembering her father’s question at the dinner table:

“When Blakely and her brother were growing up, her father would ask them a question every week at the dinner table:

‘What did you guys fail at this week?’”

‘If we had nothing to tell him, he’d be disappointed,’ Blakely said. ‘The logic seems counterintuitive, but it worked beautifully.’”

Blakely’s father wanted to normalize failure as proof that at least his kids were trying new things. And that failing was okay.

“His attitude taught me to define failure as not trying something I want to do instead of not achieving the right outcome.”

Trust God with Your Moments

Although The Power of Moments doesn’t speak directly to faith issues, as believers in God we can see this spiritual truth: when we step out in faith, we show God we trust him. Not just trust him for successful outcomes, but trust him with all our moments. And that grows our faith.

No one wants to stagnate; we all want to grow. But growth requires us to put ourselves out there. Experience more, go in new directions, enlarge our circles.

By learning to stretch for moments of insight, we can influence the lives of others and our own.

“The promise of stretching is not success, it’s learning.”

* * *

What’s an aha! moment you’ve had? Have you had a mentor who helped you grow? Please share in the comments.


The Four (EPIC) Elements of Marking the Moment:

16 thoughts on “Need to Stretch? {Mark the Moment Series #4}

  1. Debbie Wilson

    Lisa, I’ve read Made to Stick. This sounds like another great book. This perfectionist found it quite challenging! I like the quote, “Action leads to insight more often than insight leads to action.”

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh, Made to Stick is one of my very favorites! I’m glad to hear you read it also, Debbie. I really resonate with the subject matter and the way that the Heath Brothers write their books. I’ve enjoyed every one they’ve written in the past few years. It’s usually practical things that I can apply to real life.

  2. Joy

    Hi Lisa! Thanks for sharing these principles, especially this one: “We’re more likely to have an aha! moment outside our comfort zone. ” I recently stepped out beyond what’s familiar. It sounds like lots of aha moments are coming my way. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Good for you in stepping outside of your comfort zone, Joy. It’s not always easy to do, especially for some of us (like me!). 🙂 Praying you will see some unique and unexpected blessings come to you soon.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly, Debbie. Sometimes we think we’ve failed if the outcome isn’t what we expected, but if we’ve grown from the experience, it counts as a success. Hindsight is helpful in those cases. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Risk-taking doesn’t come naturally to me either, Bethany. I’d rather just stay in my comfort zone. 🙂 But some of my most life-changing moments have come directly from taking risks, so I know it’s an important thing to do, even though it scares me.

  3. floyd

    I like this one. This is one of those things that I do instinctively, maybe, or probably, to a fault.

    My aha moment is when I was young investing in a real estate deal. I was over my head and everyone with a lick of sense new I was too. After explaining myself, motives, probabilities, and the huge risk of failure. I finally came up with the saying I’ve now made a family adage; “They can’t eat me and they can’t take my soul”.

    Fear is a natural part of a healthy life. Proof? “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Look up that term; “Fear” in Hebrew, pretty liberating, as long as we’re revering our Father before all else.

    I personally believe that trying, regardless of success or failure at each scenario, is success. Failing to try is just that; failing.

    I feel like I got set up again!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m jealous of people who are natural risk-takers like you, Floyd. I have a lot to learn in that area. I love your family adage—I’ll have to remember that for myself and pass it along to others because it takes some of my fear away.

      “Failing to try is just that; failing.” Love that too.

  4. bluecottonmemory

    A moment of serendipity being a God-intentional to stretch? I love that! And the questioning about a failure – and what we learned from – how it stretched us – what a thoughtful, insightful way to shepherd our children with deep conversations. I so enjoyed this Lisa! Thank you for highlighting. I’ve already put the book on my list for this month!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      If you do read The Power of Moments, I hope you get as much out of it as I have, Maryleigh. I’ve found it to be thought-provoking for a lot of different areas. I have it on my Kindle but I wish I had a hardback because I think my husband would benefit from it as well, applying it to work situations. I tell him bits and pieces but I don’t do it justice. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What a blessing that you are close with your mom’s friend and could talk to her in that way. That’s a huge blessing that not everyone has. Thanks for sharing this, Sarah.

  5. Trudy

    Thank you for yet another stretch to our thinking, Lisa. 🙂 This line gives me pause to ponder – “We’re more likely to have an aha! moment outside our comfort zone.” I’m still a work-in-progress in stepping out of my comfort zone… Not being a risk-taker in my personality doesn’t help… But God! Love and hugs to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know just what you mean, Trudy; I’m not a natural risk-taker either. To get outside my comfort zone takes a shove. 🙂 But I know the rewards are usually worth it so that helps. Have a great weekend!

Leave a Reply

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