Stay flexible – She who is not willing to bend is more likely to break

In a previous blogpost, What to do when you feel stuck in the weeds I covered some tips to help get you through those times when you feel unfocused, overwhelmed, or off-track. That’s what I call being in the weeds. The tips:

  1. Stay flexible
  2. Connect with people who’ve been where you are
  3. Find a process that works for you
  4. Trust the process

I’m going to expand on each of these tips over the next four weeks starting with Tip #1 to help you stay on track:

Stay flexible

Better bend than break. ~ Scottish Proverb

That’s pure wisdom.

But it’s so hard to be flexible sometimes, isn’t it? Being willing to bend when you’d rather not. Especially when bending makes you look weak or worse — wrong. It’s hard to give it up. Maybe it’s pride. Or maybe it’s the uncertainty about what to do next, an oversight or a misunderstanding.

Here are a few thought to help you be more flexible:

Check your stubborn streak.

I come from a long line of stubborn individuals and the wide stubborn streak of a few family members in particular have become legendary. The old description “stubborn as a mule” sums it up well. You can’t push, pull, coax, or persuade a mule to move if he doesn’t want to move.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons published on rubymontalvo.com
Ancient Egyptian stubborn mule – Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Maybe we’ve all been there at one time or another. (I know I have.)

But it’s important to check your stubborn streak so you don’t lost your senses:

  • Can’t hear suggestions
  • Don’t want to talk about the situation
  • Can’t see any other way than your own

Stubbornness makes you unreasonable. 

It’s easy to get off course and stuck in the weeds when you’re in that state of mind. And you run the risk of making things more difficult for yourself.

Refusing to budge won’t get you anywhere. Better to check your stubborn streak and consider giving in.

And just a quick aside, I don’t think stubbornness is all bad. There are times when you have to stick to your ideas and principles. But that’s more about being strong and determined. There will always be naysayers and people who don’t believe in your vision. In those cases, by all means, dig your heels in and get ready for all that lies ahead. 

Be open to learning.

You may know a lot about a lot of things, but no one knows it all. The best kind of teachers are those who learn from their students. If you consider people who are gracious and humble, they are open to learning from others.

Thinking you know it all is a sign of weakness. Approach things with a beginner’s mindset. Be like a child who’s mind is like a sponge, eager to learn all you can.

Swallow your pride.

We are rarely proud when we are alone. ~ Voltaire

It took me a long time to learn this hard-fought lesson: A person who hangs on to her pride can’t be flexible. Pride destroys. Relationships. Careers. Happiness.

I read a children’s picture book about the man who invented television Philo Farnsworth. I’d never heard of him. His is a tragic story. He was brilliant and creative, but he wasn’t willing to work within the patent system in place and fought for sole credit of his inventions. He didn’t die alone, but struggled with depression and alcoholism toward the end of his life.

When I first read his story he struck me as a tragic hero who’s fatal flaw was pride. I can’t help but wonder what his life might have been had he been more flexible and willing to share the credit for his invention. (I’m telling you the short version of his story, of course.)

But the bottom line is this – Pride kills lots of things: relationships, careers, health.

Be flexible.

I know it’s not always easy. Most of us have to work at it, I suppose. (Some of us have to work at it more than others.) But a little flexibility goes a long way toward personal and professional happiness. 

So know yourself and your tendency to be stubborn, a know it all, and prideful. (Gee, they sound terrible when you say it that way.) They’re flexibility killers. And happiness killers. Give them up.

You’re life, happiness, and work are worth it.