For this lesson, we will describe FLEXIBILITY as the speed and ease with which you are able to adapt to changing conditions. And there's no doubt that conditions can change very quickly in our lives and in the marketplace. On any business day we can watch instant changes in the market value of oil, commodities and a company's stock price. Just in one day last Friday, we watched the market value of Bear Stearns, the fifth largest investment bank drop 40% of its market value. By tomorrow it may be down by as much as 95% of its market value, if a bailout occurs to prevent its collapse. Can anyone or any company be flexible enough to adapt to these dramatic changes? Or better yet, what could have been done to plan better in order to avoid these drastic changes?
Throughout history, mankind has never easily accepted changes. Societies were comfortable with permanence. For centuries people believed that the world was flat, and then that the Sun revolved around the Earth. The Emperors and Kings believed that their families and heirs would rule forever. If you had enough guts to publicly challenge existing schools of thought, you might have been deemed insane and could even lose your life. Flexibility of character was outright dangerous.
However, today all of that has changed. My dad, who was born at the turn of the 20th century, had witnessed more changes in his lifetime than all generations before him. Yet the speed at which he watched changes occur will look like slow motion when compared to the future ahead of us. Will your education and skill levels be sufficient to cope with these massive changes? Will you be prepared to deal with the demands of future customers? Now is the time to take an inventory of yourself and your employees, and take positive actions to prepare for that future.
But here is where FLEXIBILITY comes in; during the planning stages. It's so important to have long-term goals. They are the pull of the future. But it's also important to understand a few crucial things:
We live in a world with 6.7 billion people. That means there are over billions of thoughts and actions all taking place at the same time. And all of it changes the world that we live in.
The second point to understand is that no single human has the capacity to keep track of the infinite number of changes that occur every second. One very perceptive meteorologist said that no matter how far technology advances, the weather can never be 100% predicted; there are just too many variables. He said that if a lone butterfly in a desolate area in Brazil were to flap his wings, IT CHANGES EVERYTHING!
Thus, considering that there are an infinite number of changes always happening; and that no human can possibly be aware of it all; it would be unwise to believe that any person could possibly plan EVERY DETAIL of his or her life. This is why you must be FLEXIBLE.
Be RIGID with your long-term goals. But be flexible on which roads you may have to take to get there. If you stay fixed on what you want long-term, and CONSTANTLY move towards it, without giving up, you'll eventually get there. But how you get there may be totally different than you originally planned. There will be twists and turns that you can never have prepared for ahead of time.
Obstacles will pop-up that you couldn't possibly anticipate. At the same time, you may get an unexpected phone call that changes everything for the better. A new technology may be invented that catapults you to your goal faster than you could have expected. You just can't possibly plan this stuff! Your MAIN job is to know what you want AND to never stop moving towards it. After that, let go and let Nature take care of the rest.
Let Nature do its job. Your body is made up of 100 trillion cells, yet it operates with pin-point precision. People are only productive when they are freed from human regulations. A person can't anticipate all of the changes going on in our world, yet that same person can still set goals and achieve them. In other words, you don't have to (and can't) have everything right under your thumb; there are other forces at work.
To be flexible you must remove the word permanence from your thought process. Surround yourself with flexible people that have a vision for the future, and are willing to work hard to get prepared for whatever comes down the road. Don't procrastinate! Start planning and acting TODAY! But always stay flexible!