Copy of Your Flexibility
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
– Viktor E Frankl
Our behavioural and emotional flexibility are both essential to achieving our desired results and success.
Behavioural flexibility is your capacity to take all the available information that is relevant, assess what is working and what is not, and then make decisions and appropriate adjustments in your behaviour that align with bringing you even closer to your desired outcome.
Emotional flexibility is being connected with our emotions and moving through them.
Successful people know the value of being flexible.
They know that the more flexible they are, the more choice they have, and the more they are able to adapt to changes in circumstances in the external environment, the more success they will achieve.
The rigid ego-driven thinker who sees only their side of the story will have the least impact on the system, and find situations challenging.
The person who sees possibilities, options and opportunities will have an increased capacity to achieve their goals and desired results.
I think of this like above the line and below the line thinking we discussed back at the beginning of the course.
When you blame the world around you and play the victim, you are fearful of failure, you are below the line. Your ego keeps you safe and secure. But you can’t change and grow. You are stuck.
What about choices, results, personal accountability?
Then you are above the line. You love failure and feedback, you see choice, accountability, results. You are growing and stepping outside your comfort zone and taking life and thriving.
The person with the most flexibility has the more choices, and therefore more influence over systems, situations, events etc.
If your actions are not producing the results you want, then you can simply adapt and change your behaviour and do things differently until you achieve your results.
In other words, we must be able to change readily to meet new circumstances.
Every one of us is responsible for our own life. We may not be able to control external events (what happens to us, around us or to others), but we are capable of controlling our reactions and responses to those events.
And if we keep reacting and responding in the same way, we will always get the same result.
A person with flexibility will change their behaviour repeatedly whenever something isn’t working.
They do something new until they achieve their goal, or realise they are seeking something else through the learning they acquire from the first attempt.
Therefore, it’s important to note that flexibility applies to our thinking as much as it does to our behaviour.
So, what result are you looking for, what action are you taking, what results are you noticing, and if it’s not the result you’re looking for what do you need to do differently?
Focus on the Vision, but be Flexible on the Details
Think of your goals as the destination and the various actions, habits and strategies as your vehicles.
Numerous potential vehicles can help you arrive at your desired destination; the key lies in finding the right ones uniquely suited to you.
Successful people are stubborn with what they want, but they understand that arriving at the end destination will involve detours and unexpected side roads to explore.
What gets you to point A won’t necessarily get you to point B.
As you keep growing and progressing, you need to continually evolve and be open to new ideas. If you don’t or aren’t, then you could miss opportunities and further extend your timeline.
Let go of your ego, and let go of fear.
As a business owner or leader, you need to continually need to pivot your strategy.
To grow a team, you need to pivot emotionally.
If you get stuck in a narrative of negativity towards a team member, or allow negative thoughts to undermine your abilities, then you can’t be a great leader in your life or of others.
Take the example given by Susan David, author of “Emotional Agility” in the Harvard Business Review.
She describes Jeffrey, who gets angry at work, with his boss, with his team, when they don’t behave entirely as he thinks they should.
When Jeffrey tries to suppress his anger, he’s left feeling that he hasn’t been able to bring his whole self to work. So he’s less effective and of course even angrier.
She advises that Jeffrey needs to detach from the feelings and label them. So “my colleague makes me furious” becomes “I’m having the thought that my colleague is wrong and am feeling angry about it”. Detached and labelled, it is easier to deal with.
You can even ask yourself, “What if I could stop being so angry with them?” Or maybe, “What if I am just angry because I can’t control my colleague and I don’t like their approach, but they might have a point?”
No-one is suggesting that this is easy. If you can pivot emotionally however, you are more open to pragmatic solutions. You are more likely to achieve the results you want, accept that you and others can change and create an environment where everyone can flourish.
Emotional flexibility is crucial for next level leadership – of yourself and others.
Can You Feel It?
A lot of us find it challenging to connect with our emotions.
It is easier and safer to just keep going, regardless of what our body tells us.
But when we listen to our bodies – through overwhelm, frustration, anger or sadness, whatever it is – the more we acknowledge the emotions and feel them – yes actually feel them, then the better we can lead ourselves, and then others.
For example, I feel sad. I’m going to sit with it and feel it. I’m not going to numb it with alcohol, food or busyness. Just sit with the emotion and allow it in.
Allow them to fill up my body and experience the full range of emotions – to laugh, cry, scream.
The more we bottle up or numb our emotions, they more they fester and control our lives. We continually run away from them rather than processing and feeling them fully.
The Power of Crying
Crying is an incredible way of truly feeling and processing our emotions.
However, in certain societies today, for men in particular, crying can be seen as weak and unmanly.
But it serves a purpose for us as humans, and is something our bodies do naturally.
There are many benefits from crying and the top 5 are:
1. Self Soothing
Crying is one of our best mechanisms to self-sooth. Research has shown that crying actually activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which helps our body rest and digest.
2. Helps You Feel Good
Crying for long periods also releases oxytocin and endogenous opioids or endorphins. These chemicals help us feel good physically and emotionally. We get a calm sense of wellbeing.
3. Improves Your Mood
Along with helping you ease pain, crying, specifically sobbing, may improve your mood and lift your spirits. When you sob, you take in many quick breaths of cool air. Breathing in cooler air can help regulate and even lower the temperature of your brain. A cool brain is more pleasurable to your body and mind than a warm brain. As a result, your mood may improve after a sobbing episode.
4. Helps You Process Strong Emotions
Crying doesn’t only happen in response to something sad. Sometimes you may cry when you are extremely happy, scared, or stressed.
Researchers at Yale University believe crying in this way may help to restore emotional equilibrium. When you’re incredibly happy or scared about something and cry, it may be your body’s way to recover from experiencing such a strong emotion.
5. Helps You Process Grief
Grieving is a process. It involves periods of sorrow, numbness, guilt, and anger. Crying is particularly important during periods of grieving. It may even help you process and accept the loss of a loved one. Everyone goes through the grieving process in different ways. If your crying becomes extreme or interferes with your daily life, you may need to seek help through your healthcare professional.
Society has created rules around crying. Women can and men can’t.
Imagine if we all harnessed the power of the tears. What a better state we would create for ourselves, which directly impacts those around us.
Let’s do another exercise together, so please download the workbook and complete the exercises.