Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
~ Bruce Lee
We live in very exciting times and these times show signs of business transformation. It is no longer enough to speak about change, we have to talk about transformation and this may require that we look at the world from a different perspective. The sooner business owners and management teams realize this tremendous shift, the easier it will be for them to see how important it is to be flexible.
It is very difficult for me to tell successful companies that their success will dwindle if they continue to accept the status quo, if they keep doing what they are doing and are not flexible and open to change. We have seen it all before when we reflect back on the “Big Three” automakers, and we will, no doubt, see it again. Arrogance and denial can be stronger than being flexible and proactive in a changing market.
When I think about my experience as a marathon runner, it’s always easier to lead the pack than to catch up to a crowd of runners who have left you behind. Shouldn’t be the same hold true for business?
Like in an exercise routine, flexibility means having the ability to stretch and that’s not always easy. It may not feel comfortable but it is important that we stretch ourselves out of our comfort zone. It takes hard work and commitment to stretch your body and it takes commitment and courage to stretch your mind.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t stay committed to your decisions but it is very important that you are flexible in your approach. From my own experience, I know that it is very tempting to do what we have always done because it worked before, and why shouldn’t it work again?
I constantly hear phrases such as, “I know that”, “We have always done it this way”, “I told them how to do it”, or “We have no time to try something new that may not work”. I guess this is our “get it right the first time without making any mistakes mentality” but I vouch for making as many mistakes as we can, learn from them and get better and better as we move along.
If we stretch our mind far enough to look at a challenge from a different angle, it may be uncomfortable but on the bright side, we have another perspective that will help us to generate new and exciting ideas.
I am convinced that if you want to be one step ahead of your competition, you have to become a flexible thinker. You and I both know how much emphasis there is on innovation and creativity but how can we be innovative and creative if we don’t work at having a flexible mind?
If you don’t take the first step in the right direction, your competition will!