If there is one skill we have all had to grow in over recent times it is flexibility. Plans made in one moment are radically altered by the next day. My daughter’s first day of school for the year postponed. Plans being made for a conference held loosely. Some days I feel agile and ready for anything. Other days it feels like a hit to the gut. At times, I wonder if making a plan for anything is even worth it. I’ve come to realise that I am actually not needing to work on flexibility. I need to work on letting go of control.
I get unsettled when something shakes that sense of control. It comes out in complaints, seeing myself as a victim, and endlessly trying to work out what the perfect decision might be. Sometimes I think I have this mastered. Then I see this driver buried under the layers of my reactions and feelings of paralysis in making decisions. This stifles my ability to respond and be agile.
The source of true flexibility
So how do we change this? True flexibility stems from this- we stop trying to control what we never could control. We are willing to confront the illusion of being in control. Sounds fun, right?! It is so easy to slip into thinking that we can determine outcomes by making a plan and setting goals. Or maybe we think we simply need to find the right strategy or words to use. I see this play out in my leadership roles and in my parenting. Inevitably, I get disheartened when others don’t respond in the way I would like. I never had control of that outcome in the first place.
There are only two things in life that I can truly control- my actions and my perceptions. How easily I forget that! The more I try to control everything else that is happening, the less I exercise my control over my choices, the words I allow in my mind and my attitudes. This impacts my mood and mental state. It affects my leadership and work. Worst of all, it leaks over those closest to me.
What does this mean for planning?
So, should I just throw out all planning if I cannot control the outcomes or circumstances? As tempting as it is some days, I know the answer is no. We need plans and strategies. They do influence outcomes and results. The difference comes in where my focus and efforts are centred. What is my part to play? Who do I need to be to make this happen? Who do I need to bring around me to help with the areas that aren’t my strength? How am I viewing this task or situation? I seek to lead myself well and let go of control of what was never mine to control in the first place.
The Ignite Program from Lead Different has been instrumental in my ability to recognise these truths and learn how to implement them. Maybe this is an investment in your development that you would benefit from too.
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