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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Remaining flexible

by Pam Roth
Do you remember the flexible little toy called Gumby?  Well, we have a similar toy around our house, only it is a long, wiry rabbit.  Today, I pulled him out to remind me that I need to remain flexible - flexible not only to change, but also to interruptions.

Does this ever happen to you?  You have a plan.  You know exactly what you want to accomplish, but then it doesn’t work out the way you hoped it would.  You know the saying: “The best laid plans of men and mice often go askew.”  That’s exactly how I felt today. From the moment my feet hit the ground, it seemed to be one interruption or distraction after another.  None of which were bad things, just a detour in the day I had planned.

What do you do when things don’t go the way you planned?  Do you feel out of control? Do you become frustrated with the situation and angry with the people who seem to be keeping you from the task at hand?  Or do you become complacent and just give up?  Both of these reactions are extremes, so how do you find middle ground to stay flexible?  What is the secret to being open to changes in your life and not frustrated with daily interruptions? 

Let’s use the wiry rabbit as an illustration.  If I take the rabbit and twist his arms and legs and get him to look frustrated, he will appear to be closed to new ideas or relationships.  He also looks uncomfortable with himself and those around him.  Think about it: When we let some insignificant thing get us all up tight, we shut down any possibility of accepting a new or different way to approach something.  It is much harder to change our course if we get hung up on what “should be” instead of the way it “could be.” 

Now, let’s go to the opposite side of this scenario.  What would happen if the rabbit’s lanky arms and legs were pulled straight out and he was placed in a lying-down position?  Wouldn’t that suggest that he has just given up?  Is that what you do when you feel overwhelmed?  Do you say, “I can’t get this done, it’s too big of a project, or there are too many obstacles.  I’m just going to quit.”?  Maybe you become quiet and withdrawn from those who are dear to you.  The message is, “Change isn’t going to happen any time soon.”

We are all aware that life is filled with both changes and interruptions.  The question is, “How good are you at accepting it?”  What are the steps that all of us need to take to be able to overcome an interruption or face a challenge?  What can you do when you feel knocked off of dead center?  How do you find that balance in your life? 

I encourage you to check out the coaching tips and then practice remaining flexible this week.

Coaching tips:
           ….steps to remaining flexible
  • Start with a plan, knowing that interruptions or the need for change can happen.
  • Find the opportunity in a challenging situation.
  • Be open to thinking outside the box.
  • Exercise self-control by finding your center (what gives you a sense of peace?).
  • Accept responsibility for your actions, and don’t blame others for the interruptions in your life.
  • Realize that complaining will keep you fixated on the problem, not help you find a solution.
  • Remember that you have a choice in the matter.
A good word for the day…
I Corinthians 15:51: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

Feel free to leave a comment below. For more information about coaching email: or


  1. As a professional planner for 30 odd years, i echo the need to maintain flexibilty. Without it, you can run into walls that are insurmountable..better to be a reed in the tempest than the strongest oak.

  2. Thanks Ed. Coming from your background your comment adds strength to Pam's article. -Nelson


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