We live in a changing world. Change is a characteristic of life. The only thing that doesn’t change is the fact that all things will change. This being so, we must be creatures of change if we wish to succeed. That is, we must learn how to adapt to the changing circumstances in which we live.
All too often, however, people resist change, trying to hold on to the old way of doing things. It doesn’t make senses to cling to the past, for it will vaporize in your grip, and you will find yourself with nothing to hold on to. As an expert on change, Charles Darwin (1809 ~ 1882) wrote, “It’s not the strongest of the species nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
The point, then, is if we wish to be beacons of strength, examples of resilience, and models of success, we need to make our motto ADAPTABILITY or MENTAL FLEXIBILITY. To gain the most from life we must master the art of adjusting to changing circumstances. Making adaptability a major goal opens our life to adventure and excitement, for we can never know where our changing path will take us. On the other hand, if we refuse to change, we can be certain of our destination, which is FAILURE.
Here are some points to ponder as we nurture and develop adaptability:
1. Adopt the correct attitude. That is, welcome change rather than run from it. Embrace it because our struggle to adapt brings out the best in us. It makes us stronger and wiser, and positions us for success.
2. Understand we have to BE before we can DO and DO before we can HAVE. In other words, we have to BE flexible before we can DO what is best for us, and we have to DO what is best for us before we can HAVE success. So, it all begins with the correct attitude.
3. If we want to grow, we must be willing to stretch. After all, change is nothing more than life stretching, reaching further, and becoming more than it was. So, when we learn to adapt, we synchronize ourselves with life. By “going with the flow” life will be working with us and success will become all that easier.
But resisting the inevitable brings only exhaustion and fruitlessness.
4. When you are perfectly aligned with life and everything is going your way, take advantage of your blessings and put them to good use. This is the EXPLOITATION phase. But no matter how good things are, never neglect to search for new and better ways of doing things; look for alternatives and alternate solutions. This is the EXPLORATION phase. Always EXPLOIT your good fortune, but never neglect to EXPLORE for new opportunities, for EXPLORATION is preparation for future change. It may not completely protect you from a disastrous change, but it will at least soften the blow; thereby providing you with more energy to deal with the change.
5. Embark on a path of endless personal development as the more skills and knowledge you get, the more options you will have, and the more flexible you will become.
6. Take a balanced view of the world, balancing positive change with acceptance of what cannot be changed. Do your best to contribute to life by improving it where you can, but accept with equanimity what you cannot change. And cultivate the wisdom to distinguish between what is possible and what is impossible to change. And never forget that what is impossible to change today may be possible to change tomorrow. Always remain flexible, not allowing your beliefs to grow rigid. Remember that rigidity of thought is rigor mortis of the mind.
7. Adapting to life includes ACCOMMODATING others. Since people are the source of our power and crucial to our success, getting along with others should be a major concern. Learn how to accommodate the needs of others. Personal, business, and family relationships are not only about fulfillment; they are also about adjustment.
8. Develop the habit of questioning yourself and monitoring your progress. Ask yourself, “Is this the only way of doing this task? Is it the best way? What other options do I have? How can I improve the situation? What was impossible for me to do in the past that I may be able to do now? What relationships do I need to mend? Knowing that it is impossible to help others without helping ourselves, who should I be helping and how?” Questions such as these will nurture our adaptability.
9. Develop clear thinking and open-mindedness to help you see all possibilities. For seven excellent principles taught by Dr Edward de Bono, visit http://www.ta-tutor.com/webpdf/thinkng.pdf
10. Our attitude has an immense impact on our body. Resisting change and an unwillingness to adapt to our changing environment causes stress, which wreaks havoc on our body. Pursuing goals is good, but if we are overly attached to the outcome we may not be flexible enough to alter it when necessary. I love to set goals, but I recognize that life’s plan for me may be better than my own plan, so I try to remain flexible and stress free. Sue Petrie Marsha expressed it best when she said, “Blessed are the Flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.” (http://www.goldstars.com%2Fspeakers%2Fsue_marsha_petrie.html)
11. Some conservative thinkers are uncomfortable with change. They wish to leave well enough alone. But the problem is, if you leave things alone, you will leave them alone in a whirlpool of change. So, if left alone, things will change, and if we don’t, there will be a mismatch, an incoherence with reality, leaving us ineffective. We always need to be on the lookout for new solutions, failing that we will find new problems.
12. For more ideas on the significance of flexibility, see: http://www.personal-development.com/chuck/flexibility.htm