Bend or be Broken
One of the life’s great skills is knowing how to make small, needed adjustments. Inflexibility is the enemy of success. This applies in business, relationships, and in your personal development. You have to learn how to bend—to roll with the punches, or you’ll be miserable. I'm not speaking of your deepest held moral values. Those are nonnegotiable. Everything else should be up for discussion. In my years as an employer, a mentor and leader, I've had the opportunity to work with hundreds of people, on all levels of education and experience. I've directly reported to a CEO and I've been the CEO. I've had to develop lawyers, managers and leaders of myriad backgrounds. I place the folks I’ve worked with in two general bins: The successful and the unsuccessful. The successful people were open-minded. They may have held strong opinions about methods, goals or approaches, but they could be convinced otherwise. If you showed them a compelling case for a better way of tackling a problem, they listened, absorbed the data, and then made adjustments.
The unsuccessful batch was always the opposite. These folks were typically married to a particular viewpoint or way of doing things. Even when it was clear that their way would not work, or that the status quo needed to be changed, they remained dug in. In order to move some of them along, I provided training, personal mentorship and oodles of feedback. This rarely worked. They would listen intently, take the training, nod their heads in agreement, and then go back to doing whatever they were doing before. They were irreparably inflexible. And in life, the inflexible usually loses.
Even skyscrapers are designed to bend. Standing rigid in the wind will cause a rupture. Bending a little keeps the edifice intact.
At the start of my blogging journey, I had a goal to publish three times per week: On Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That's in addition to accomplishing a basket of goals, including finishing a draft of my second novel. Thanks to modern website analytics, I found out that my readers consume my blogs on Thursday, Friday and Wednesday, in that order. With that data in mind, I've decided to publish around my readers' preferences.
That accomplishes two things for me: It allows me to publish when my readers are reading, and it allows me to publish at a rate in keeping with my active lifestyle. I agonized for a couple weeks prior to making this decision. I felt like I was married to my old writing schedule. After all, I had made this promise to myself and my readers.
Never-mind that my readers weren't paying attention on some days.
Plus, I reasoned with myself, successful blogger Seth Godin publishes his blog DAILY; right?
I realize now those were foolish questions to ask. It’s unwise to compare myself to Seth Godin, or anyone else. That line of inquiry only leads to self-doubt and negativity. I can't be Seth. He already has that job, and he’s doing really well with it. My job is to be me. Comparing me to him is so silly, the Bible says not to do it.
I draw inspiration from successful people every day. Seth Godin is just one of several “virtual mentors” that I follow. That is the healthy way to do it. Measuring my success or failure by how well I copy their techniques is not.
I had my annual physical exam yesterday. My doctor asked me if I’ve been exercising. I told him that I’d been consistently walking. My old knees can no longer handle running.
He looked surprised—in a good way. He said that I have the resting heart rate of a professional athlete. My blood pressure was right on point and all my other vitals were in great shape. Yes, you may loudly applaud.
It’s always a blessing to receive a good report from your doctor, but there’s a point to the story. (Although I’m pretty sure there’s a little bit of ego in there … somewhere). I truly believe that my physical health is completely related to my mental well-being. My vital signs have been strong through the years because I’ve mastered the skill of making small adjustments in life.
I refuse to allow anything—my goals, dreams, plans, methods, investments (good or bad), mistakes, shortcomings, successes or failures—to box me in. When I feel the walls crashing, I make a small adjustment and keep moving. If something isn’t working, I tweak it. If I have to move on, I do so without regret.
This keeps me healthy, mentally and physically. It keeps me in a state of calm. I’ve seen too many people marry inflexible positions to the death—literally—not to mention grudges, bitterness and lack of forgiveness.
From my window, life is too short for that.
This post is about 24 hours overdue by my planning, but I’m smiling as my fingers tap the keys. You know what that sound is, don’t you?
It’s the sound of my happy-bending.
Thanks for reading my post. I'm an attorney and Christian minister. I'm also a #keynote #speaker and an author. I write about business, life and faith, focusing on how to know God's vision for your life so that you may fulfill your purpose. You may connect further with me here or by clicking below!