Why being flexible with your behaviour is a superpower

Rigidity and force usually solves little. Flexibility and adaptability is what one needs

By Delna Mistry Anand

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Published: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 11:41 PM

When in hot water, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you throw in the towel. This simply means that in a challenging situation, defeat or resignation is not always the answer. Sometimes it’s about finding a different way out. If you truly care about the outcome, there’s almost always another way to rebuild.

Recently, I watched Toastmasters champion Manoj Vasudevan’s winning speech, ‘Pull Less, Bend More’. He spoke about his mother’s advice to him as he was facing trouble in his marriage. ‘Pull less, bend more’, she advised. Using the analogy of Cupid’s bow and arrow, the wise mama explained that if you pull too hard and too strong, the bow might snap. But if you skillfully bend the bow, you may have a better chance of success.

Not just in marriage, but in any relationship or situation, for every closed door there is usually more than just a single way out. However, under stress, our sense of judgment gets clouded and we aren’t able to see another way besides our own. Rigidity and force usually solves little. Flexibility and adaptability is what is truly needed.

We’ve seen it for ourselves. So much has changed in the past two years. The way people live, how our priorities have changed, how we consume entertainment, how companies do business, how people sell; change has been at the heart of everything. Being able to “go with the flow” and be flexible in your thinking is a necessary skill for dealing with these inevitable changes and challenges as they arise. Whether it’s starting a new job, working cohesively in your current environment or redefining your business strategy, being cognitively flexible helps us to find a meaningful flow in life, while finding peace and happiness in the long term.

A flexible mind is someone who can respond quickly and effectively to external and internal opportunities or threats. It’s the same for an agile business. Rigidity is the death of growth.

The good thing is that adaptability and flexibility are skills that can be learnt. But first, you must bring your awareness to the areas of your life in which you are feeling stuck, or rigid.

Here are some strategies:

1) What is the final desired outcome?

In an unyielding discussion with someone, look at the final outcome desired from both parties. Often, both parties intend a similar outcome, but the approach varies, causing friction. You’ll likely find it easier to understand and manage such situations if you are open to looking at it from different perspectives.

2) Perceptual position

In Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) terms, the ‘perceptual position’ technique is when we place ourselves in three positions and observe three points of view 1) Our own, 2) The opposite party (standing in their shoes) and 3) A fly on the wall or neutral observer — this position is all about looking at the situation from a neutral stand, in a detached way and without being tangled in our own (or other persons) needs. This process really allows us to understand the situation much better considering the different points of view, and eventually helps us to be more flexible in our approach.

3) Practise the pause

It is always a good idea to step back momentarily, and look at the situation. Journalling may help. Become aware of where you’re facing the road block, how you can find a peaceful way around it and what resources do you have at hand? Self awareness is a superpower.

4) Take risks

Sometimes the only way out is to dive in. Be prepared to take that leap into something new, if you’re at a dead end. No one achieved anything substantial without putting something at risk.

5) It’s okay to ‘not’ know

Be in a state of curiosity and don’t be afraid to learn as you go along. It’s the “I know it all” frame of mind that leads to stagnancy.

The only thing certain in life is change. Those who resist change are resisting growth. It has been said that the greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude. A flexible mind can be the difference between flow of abundance and rigidity or staleness. Make flexibility of behaviour and mindset your superpower.


Connect with Delna Mistry Anand across social media @DelnaAnand

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