Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
When I sold my first web hosting company to a large, publicly traded corporation, I was excited about taking our already profitable and successful web hosting company to a new level. We went from 11 employees to a division of over 200 people. We then had the resources of many bright people with Harvard educations who had been in business for decades. We also had access to money to improve our current services and begin some real marketing campaigns. However, within just days, my enthusiasm began to wane with the realization that flexibility was not part of this new corporate culture. Changes that we used to implement in minutes now took months. This rigid, multi-management layered environment in an industry that demands flexibility would eventually lead to the downfall of the entire division.
In the early days of my first web hosting company, I was often criticized for “not sticking with plans.” If I saw a better opportunity, I would often divert all energy to the new opportunity and let the other one go. It’s like being on a busy sidewalk and seeing a dollar bill a few yards away; you start to walk toward it with the intent to pick it up, and then you see a ten-dollar bill that is even closer. How could you not change course and pick up the ten-dollar bill instead? Let someone else get the one-dollar bill, or if it is still there, get it after you pick up the ten dollar bill. It was not long before those on my team began to realize the method to my “madness.”
Flexibility is an attitude that can help us succeed both personally and professionally in several ways.
- Flexibility allows us to make better decisions. In today’s business environment, we are continually presented with new information. As we become better informed, we may realize that the decisions we made yesterday are not the best decisions today. It is not too late to make the right decision.
- Flexibility allows us to take advantage of new opportunities. If we go through life with blinders on, we fail to see and act on the other opportunities.
- Flexibility can help us reach our goals faster and with less effort. A goal properly defined allows for flexibility. Know where you want to go and have a plan for getting there, but don’t pass on a better opportunity just because it is not in your original plan.
- Flexibility can help us find our “calling” in life. We are encouraged to have some idea of what we want to do with our life by our second year in high school (around age 15). However, for most of us it takes many more years to discover what we are passionate about. Unless you are passionate about your chosen field, remain flexible and do not fear changing careers.
- Flexibility is part of an attractive personality. Defensiveness and stubbornness are not qualities that others admire. Flexibility, however, shows others that you are smart enough to make decisions based on new information and not just old beliefs or ideals.
The one major drawback of goals, mission statements, business plans and other written paths for the future is that people put so much effort into the creation of these, that they are hesitant to change them. There is a stigma with “abandoning goals” or “getting off track.” However, flexibility is actually a very important part of any type of goal setting.
Another reason flexibility is not embraced is because of one’s ego. You will often hear one say, “I have made up my mind” or “my decision is final.” The more our beliefs or ideas are challenged, the more rigid we become. This behavior is reactionary and its purpose is to just protect our own ego. One must learn to let go of his or her ego if he or she is to be flexible.
Flexibility is often met with criticism because it can be confused with indecisiveness and/or quitting. True flexibility is, however, a vital part of long-term success that can keep you ahead of the curve in this ever-changing world.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)