On Being Flexible

Day 175 Week 26 Q2 Sunday, June 25, 2023

Sometimes creative people are so gifted that entire outcomes flood their minds in an instant fully formed. You can see every single detail throughout the project was complete. This can be a blessing or a curse, as can most of the gifted’s powerful capabilities. Sure, you can be certain that you know exactly what to do, and you may well, but this does not mean you should do it. There is a tradeoff between being self-centered and being successful. Self-centered, stubborn gifted individuals may do well in the short term and for simpler outcomes, but you had better play the long game as you will probably be gifted for a long time. 

By long game, I mean to behave in sustainable ways. If everyone who works with you comes away either burned out or simply burned it will become increasingly difficult to gain stakeholders in the future and belle me when I say you must have stakeholders, for you can not do much that is useful by yourself. Most experienced people learn that flexibility is called for if you want to be in the world and not be alone.  For example, investors know that business plans and other prognostications rarely work out as planned. They know from experience, or rapidly find out, that inflexible brilliance is far more likely to fail than flexible, slightly less brilliant players. 

This is because there is a ton of risk associated with any new endeavor and the ability to adapt and pivot and be flexible is critical for success, in part because it is critical for collaboration and no one gets far far on their own.

Additionally, flexibility permits you to be opportunistic and take advantage of circumstances that simply did not exist when you began whatever you are doing. You do not know who else will show up and what they might bring to the table. You also do not know what the marketplace’s response, including your competition, will be.

That is not to say that you should be so flexible as to not have a backbone. That also does not work because direction will become murky you leave it up to a consensus reality, as groups do not converge as well, or as rapidly as individuals and someone has to champion the enterprise.

As with most things, there is a middle ground regarding flexibility. You have to be like a gymnast, both flexible and strong. Flexible enough to not drive everyone crazy, which will drive them away, and strong enough that you can make and back up decisions fairly quickly.

A fringe benefit of managing your flexibility is you will also have far more fun and a much more interesting as well as productive life. 

Flexibility can be a force of convergence if managed and a bringer of chaos if not.