The mental flexibility of the wise man permits him to keep an open mind and enables him to readjust himself whenever it becomes necessary for a change.
– Malcom X
From my primary blog here.
Sometimes we become so caught up in our vision for the future that we forget life rarely runs in a straight line. Anyone with a dream and a plan can come up with steps along the way to strive after, but it takes something more to notice the opportunities, shortcuts, or inevitabilities that may come across our path. Life requires flexibility, and it’s often the most successful people you meet that have the most flexibility.
Bend in the Breeze Like Young Growth
I always like to define my term before I elaborate to assure we are all viewing this from the same angle – correct or otherwise. Flexibility, to me, is simply the ability to bend. That’s not to suggest that being flexible in life requires you to fold yourself up like a pretzel as in the picture above. As you might expect, the purpose of my discourse today regards mental flexibility and not the physical variety. While both may be of great benefit in life, I believe one is more important than the other in business and goal-seeking.
If you search for great quotes on the word flexibility, you’ll find many comparisons to plant life. It’s an interesting analogy, in my opinion, and I think it’s effective. Likely, we have all observed a rigid branch which broke off in the wind and fell to the ground. It is always the new growth of a tree which can survive the strongest storms. For better or for worse, life can be a bit of a wind storm as well. Some days our best-laid plans are scattered like leaves in the breeze, and we’re left to gather them back together and move on.
Leverage Your Flexibility to Find Your Path Forward
The truth is that none of us can fully understand the direction our journeys will take. Certainly, we can spend every minute of every day detailing our plan to the fullest, but we cannot control the circumstances which will confront us. I know this has been very true for myself. When life throws you a curve, you must be prepared to adapt – assuming you wish to survive, that is. For example, if you pursue an impractical dream and everything you face tells you that there’s no future here, it’s not courage to continue on anyway. In fact, it’s foolish stubbornness.
While we may not control the events about us, this isn’t always detrimental. I know that some of the greatest opportunities in my life have come about in the most unexpected of ways. Often, it’s the little things that happen along the path which bring you closer to your goal. Sometimes, in fact, you’re presented with a chance you would have never imagined—something outside your wildest imaginings—which takes you down roads you didn’t realize existed. Be open to the unexpected. Set a clear goal for your end result, but be willing to consider different ways of reaching it.
Thank you for your time.