We tend to think of flexibility as a company’s terms and conditions rather than attitudes or behaviors.
Friends and family want you to be flexible in making arrangements with them. Your boss wants you to be flexible at work, juggling long hours and heavy workloads. Professors want you to be flexible in university, navigating your classes with ease. The question still remains…
What is flexibility?
Flexibility is your ability to adapt to new challenges, unexpected obstacles, changing circumstances and new information. It’s the existence of an appropriate ‘give and take’ attitude in all of your personal and work relationships. It’s your willingness to contribute and serve even when you didn’t expect to.
Why is flexibility important?
If you value your sanity, flexibility is a must have. Most days of the calendar year are ordinary. But dilemmas can—and will—happen. We work in a world that sees rapid change and faces daily uncertainty.
A short self-assessment on your flexibility:
✓ Do you show uneasiness, frustration, and callousness when dealing with a change?
✓ Does uncertainty make you so uncomfortable that you freeze in times when you need to take action and get something done?
✓ Do you struggle to set and re-negotiate priorities when dealing with change?
✓ Do you struggle to decide and act before understanding the full picture?
✓ Do you have a strong need to finish everything before moving on to a new task? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, we urge you to explore that area of flexibility in your life.
How do you develop flexibility?
1) Identify opportunities to compromise – Look for room in your life to compromise. It’s much easier to create an agreement that multiple parties agree to than exerting the amount of energy it takes to be upset.
2) Practice – Just as you would improve physical flexibility by stretching or practicing yoga, you have to actually do the stretches or go to class regularly. If you’re always doing homework right before bed at night, try doing it as soon as you get home from class once or twice a week. The point is to try new things so that you can adapt if necessary.
3) Set small goals – Goal setting is an awesome way to become more flexible. Write down a few things each week that you will be more flexible with. Then track your progress throughout the week. Evaluate your results. Where did you succeed? Where did you fail? Why did you fail? What can you do better next time?
4) Reward yourself – Give yourself incentive to stick to the goals you’ve set. When you’ve done “x” amount of whatever you’ve chosen, you get to do something you really enjoy doing that you normally wouldn’t have time for. Yes, developing your flexibility can be fun too!
Quick thoughts on flexibility in your job search:
Four words you should never say to your boss: “I can’t do that.” Not only are you ignoring Critical Attitude #3—“Can-Do”, you’re telling your boss you have no interest in even trying to help the team.
Learn to adapt to the goals of the organization—the bigger picture. Recognize that your growing flexibility is a sure-fire way to increase your breadth of experience. Rocking new experiences is your path to getting promoted in no time. Stay flexible. Your boss and coworkers will love you for it.