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Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape – anonymous

There a good many of us who really don’t like change and we certainly don’t like to have our plans or our routines interrupted. It can even make us feel somehow insecure when the things we are used to doing or the way we are used to doing them suddenly change. Adversity: illness, children growing up and leaving the nest, best friends moving away or having to move can all be unsettling at the least and even traumatizing in the extreme.

And then there is our personality or our temperament. Some of us may be more rigid than others. Some of us don’t deal well with conflict or “messy” personalities at work or school. Some of us panic if things change too much in our environment. Others prefer to crawl into their “cave” rather than have to deal with difficult situations. So here is the question:


Flexibilit requires an open mind and a welcoming of new alternatives – Deborah Day


How Flexible Are You?

That is a tough question, isn’t it?  How we perceive ourselves is not necessarily how others perceive us. Maybe we think we are flexible and open-minded and adventurous, but those around us might not share that opinion. Here are some questions to consider and they are far from exhaustive:

  • How do you handle adversity?

  • Do people consider you easy to work with?

  • Are you open to other (different and opposing) opinions?

  • Do others consider you to be flexible and adaptable?

  • Are you approachable?

  • Do others consider you to be open-minded?

On a scale on 1 to 10 (for each one), how would you rate your flexibility? Did you pass the test? Just something to think about.

By definition, being flexible means being able to bend without breaking. In our relationships, that is certainly true; if we don’t “bend” a little, something will break, usually the relationship.


Flexibility is the key to stability – John Wooden


The Importance of Being Flexible

There are a number of positive outcomes from being an “adaptable/flexible” person:

1. It Increases the Trust that Others Have in Us

When we are able to adapt to new situations or changing circumstances, it is reassuring to others when we are able to flow with the change and not ball up in a panic. Others will see us as a stable ship that is not tossed every which way by the changing winds. They will put more trust in someone they can count on to be present and stable no matter what happens.

2.  More Personal and Professional Recognition for Our Flexibility

Adaptability ( another word for flexibility) is a tremendous asset in the business world and just about anywhere. People who tend to take things in stride receive more respect and recognition from others simply because they admire and value the quality of being able to adapt. Furthermore, people appreciate the thoughtfulness of someone who is willing to yield and help others in a pinch rather than remaining focused on their own wants and needs.

3. It Helps Us to Adapt to the Ups and Downs of Change More Easily

Being a flexible or adaptable person helps us to take life messiness with a grain of salt. With this skill or trait, we are not bound by our perceptions or thoughts, but we can adjust the way we think and change our expectations accordingly. the ups and downs of life or the hills and valleys will not have as much of a devastating impact on us because we accept and move forward.

4. It Gives an Opportunity for Growth -We Learn from Adapting)

Having a flexible approach to life can teach us many things. When we are open-minded and willing to learn, we gain new understanding and open the doors to new opportunities that may have been closed if we remain rigid in inflexibility (stuck in our ways). The more we learn, the more we grow and the more we grow, the more adaptable we become.

5. We Become Better at Taking Initiative

Being an adaptable person also means that we are more willing to take risks and open up conversations. We are more willing to try and more willing to fail. It becomes a lifestyle eventually because by taking initiatives and risks, we become more confident and empowered. It is liberating and exciting. Being a flexible person willing to try new things sets us free from being locked into the same old, same old.

6. We Develop an Increased Capacity for Creativity

Increased creativity goes right along with a flexible mindset.  A flexible person is not held down by “the way we have always done things” and are open to new ideas and creating new ways of doing things. More and more organizations are seeking out people who are creative and willing to explore new possibilities.

7. We Develop More Confidence in Ourselves and Our Abilities

As stated earlier, having a flexible mindset can help us to be more confident in ourselves and abilities. This confidence comes from being willing to let go of our routines and step out of our comfort zone to explore new zones. The more we are willing to try and fail, the more we will develop our confidence.


Problems dissappear when we are willing to become flexible – Roxana Jones


The Three Important Questions

1. Who is important?

2. What is important?

3. What is the ultimate goal?

The Who

Problems most often involve people. We are stuck with people whether we like it or not. And conflicts are usually the result of one or both people (or groups) being unwilling to budge on a matter. Since people are usually involved and we are a “people” too, maybe we should look there to see what we may need to change or see differently. In any situation with people, there are questions we need to ask:

Who is involved and important?  Are we looking at the person or the situation? Who is directly or indirectly involved with our choices, attitudes, and behavior.? In every situation, who is being served: family members, customers, colleagues? Weighing in on who will be impacted helps us to have perspective.

The What

The second question to ask is What. What is happening? What is going on?  Now that we have established the “people” part of the situation, we need to deal with the nature of the problem.

What is the real situation?  Is it urgent or important or both? Setting priorities can help us decide when to put our foot down and when to let it go. Are there creative options that can involve others and help them feel that they have a say?  Evaluate the situation and decide what is important.

What Is the Goal?

In every situation, there is a goal, whether we are aware of it or not. Sometimes people may have a different perspective on the goal or different goals altogether. So, really, this step is about establishing what the common goal is -what are we aiming for the long term? What are we looking to preserve, strengthen, improve or grow?  When we put anything or anyone into a long-term perspective, it becomes easier to be less concerned with holding our position or hanging onto routine or tradition. We can let go and flow.

Can We Be Too Flexible?

We can certainly be overly flexible and this can have a negative impact around us. Simply put, when there is too much flexibility, things don’t get done, expectations don’t get met, people lose trust and confidence and direction are lost. Ultimately, people get annoyed, frustrated and even hurt by too much adapting and compromising. Flexibility is a fine line.  When do we flex and when do we hold the line? We need to set limits, have boundaries and some semblance of structure and direction. Then, once these are in place, we can use our judgment as to when to bend and when to hold tight.

The Takeaway 

Flexibility is really a non-negotiable in today’s world. Everything changes and will continue to change. And we can’t always expect that everything will fall into our neatly packaged way of how things should be done. Flexibility is, at its core, a survival skill- we cannot get along in life without it. If we do not develop this skill, we will fall prey to the winds of life and be a victim of change and adversity.

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Diana Lynne loves to travel, self-improvement, and living a debt free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and her dog Skye. You can connect with her through