Let’s start with a few questions. Honestly, I need to ask myself these questions more often too.
- 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?
Phew!! Now that that is over, let’s talk about being flexible.
So, why is being flexible so important and how can it help us?
There are a number of positive outcomes from being an “adaptable/flexible” person:
- It increases the trust that others have in us.
- We may receive more personal and professional recognition for our flexibility.
- It helps us to adapt to the ups and downs of change more easily.
- It gives an opportunity for growth ( we learn from adapting).
- We become better at taking the initiative
- We develop a great capacity for creativity.
- We develop more confidence in ourselves and our abilities.
Being flexible really comes down to asking three important questions:
- Who is important?
- What is important?
- What is the ultimate goal?
Who is involved and important? Are we looking at the person or the situation? Who is directly or indirectly involved with our choices, attitudes, behavior etc.? In every situation, who is being served: family members, customers, colleagues? Weighing in on who will be impacted helps us to have perspective.
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.
So 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.
Be flexible and willing to adapt; there are so many benefits. Remember it is a fine line – not too much, but just enough to keep you balanced.
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