Go with the Flow

I went to the gym a few weeks ago and found that the group exercise room was under construction. I was bummed since I was there for Zumba (basically the most fun class in the entire planet; no, really. Most. Fun. Ever.). I said to the the gal standing next to me, “Oh that’s a bummer, I guess I’ll go hit the treadmill.” She responded with a scowl on her face, “They didn’t even notify us! I hate this gym!!!!!” and then stomped off and left the gym.

Let me pause to allow that to sink in: she left the gym rather than change her plans on the workout she was going to do.

There’s a lot of things that went through my head but the things that really struck me were that she wasn’t very committed to her workout if she was willing to leave with a minor setback and she wasn’t very flexible and able to roll with the punches. Being adaptable is an essential skill to have in life and in business.

Think how many times things haven’t gone your way just today (or don’t, it might just depress you).  I’m willing to bet you’ve had to compromise or change your plans at least 15 times today. Anything from what you were going to wear (whoops, that shirt’s in the laundry) to who was fixing your kids’ breakfast (what? You have an 8 a.m. meeting you forgot to tell me about?) to a co-worker interaction (huh? You thought I was doing that?! I thought YOU were taking care of it!?).

The only way to grow your business and get more done in a day is to delegate essential, important tasks. If you haven’t learned to roll with the punches, to be flexible and able to adapt on the fly, your business will suffer as it grows. Adaptability is a skill you can learn. Start small and build up. Three ways to ease into flexibility are:

(1) Come up with your mantra. When something doesn’t go my way, or, it’s different than what I envisioned, I say to myself (or often aloud to whomever I’m with), “It is neither good, nor bad; it simply is.”* This reminds me not to judge the situation but instead, attach no value to the circumstances, trusting that something will work out.

(2) Evaluate the options. There are always more than just two options. Train yourself to come up with 3 solutions to every course change or correction. This will train your brain to see the gray and not just look at the easy “Yes, No” or worse, “Win, Lose” paths.

(3) Take action and reevaluate. After you try one of your new options, reevaluate. How did it work out? What were the positives that came out of the initial plan not working? This will help you see that not everything needs to end the way you initially planned it in order to be a success.

By taking these three simple steps every time you are thrown for a loop, it will soon become automatic. You won’t think about it anymore but you will find yourself not grimacing when change happens. You will find your heart rate remains normal when you experience setbacks, you quickly and seamlessly adapt and you will be able to see the genius in the longer detour and journey.

 

* This phrase or idea comes from the Taoist (or Zen Buddhist) story, summarized here:

A Taoist farmer loses his horse. The townspeople are extremely upset for him. He says “Who knows? We shall see.” Days later, the horse comes back, leading twelve, new, younger horses. The villages are very joyful for the farmer. He says, “Who knows? We shall see.” The next morning, the farmer’s son tries to train the new horses, and falls off and breaks his leg. The villagers expect the farmer to be extremely sad over this misfortune. He says, “Who knows? We shall see.” Days later, war breaks out and all able bodied young men are conscripted into the Army. The farmer’s son cannot go with the army. Again, the farmer attaches no meaning to these events, stating “Who knows? We shall see,” as he shambles off to work his fields alone. As time goes by, the son heals but with a limp. The townspeople cluck their condolences, “Oh what bad luck for you!” The farmer shrugs his shoulders, “Who knows? We shall see.” Time passes and word comes back that all the village boys have died in the fighting. The old farmer and his son were the only able bodied men left in the village, capable of working all the village farms. They become wealthy and generous to the village. The townspeople heap praise, “We are so fortune. We are so lucky to have you.” The farmer, as always replies, “Who knows? We shall see.”

 

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8 Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for this, Anne Marie, I’ve been struggling with this with my teens lately. They are perfectionist (like their mother), and tend to procrastinate when hit with obstacles, which eventually leads to very stressed out teens (not a pretty sight). I’ve been trying to teach them (and myself) to be more flexible, and when something isn’t working to try something else instead of giving up. It is a hard life lesson, but in the long run being adaptable will make for a happier life. Thanks for these simple steps to try with them.

    • says

      My favorite phrase is something around ‘Done is better than perfect’ which goes along with the lines of ‘A good plan violently executed beats a perfect plan slowly executed.’ This means there are more mistakes made and more clean up but on the other hand, at least we’re working down the path of moving projects forward =) Baby steps, right?

  2. Karen Pettinger says

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around a very pregnant you doing anything at the gym – GOOD FOR YOU! And you’re right – folks need to chill and run with it.

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