Flexibility is an important personal characteristic. Things don’t always go as we originally planned and we have to be ready to adapt. Systems change and misbehave. People aren’t always as reliable as we would like. Accidents happen and delays are a part of life. Those who can’t flex will break. We see it in the way buildings are constructed for instance. Quake-proofing a building doesn’t mean making it resistant to quakes – strong enough to not move. It means that flexibility is built in and the structure will move some in order to absorb the quake force and not break. It can be disconcerting to those in the building when even the outside windows undulate with the seismic waves, but it is better than having them crack under pressure.
There is a phrase in football – bend, don’t break. It is a defensive strategy that focuses on not giving up big plays or scoring drives at the same time being okay with a team having a long drive as long as they don’t score. You can give up lots of yards running or passing but if the opponent doesn’t score you can still win. Another way to say it is to pick your battles and win the war.
Covid and the increased reliance on remote meetings has taught us to be flexible. In Toastmasters pre covid there weren’t a lot of remote connections. Most clubs were solely in-person affairs and if someone couldn’t physically make it to the meeting they just weren’t there. Our home club had 3 times when the venue lost power and we couldn’t meet in our normal place. One of the times there was a member who lived nearby and had space to hold the meeting so we moved it. But the other times we had to cancel.
Then covid hit, the restaurant had to close, and a few of us went to a nearby member’s house to hold a virtual meeting. We had 2 years of just meeting on zoom so we got pretty good at it and no one needed to drive anywhere. Then about a year ago, we started meeting hybrid – some in person and the rest on zoom. It isn’t perfect but we’ve made it work. And it gives us an option we didn’t have before. If someone can’t make it in person for whatever reason they have the option to join on zoom. I have had times when I had a work-related meeting too close to the club meeting time for driving, but I can quickly switch from the club zoom to the work zoom in minutes.
Sometimes we don’t realize the options we have until we are forced to use them. We resist the new and cling to the old and miss so many opportunities. I once heard it said that there are often multiple right answers to questions and we need to develop a mindset that looks for them. Often we stop when we have what we think is THE Right answer and miss the OTHER right answers -ones that might work better. Be like a tree in the wind – flexible to absorb the storm and remain standing.
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