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When I was a teenager, I read lots of the African novel series called the Pacesetters, and I do recall vividly, a quote in one of the titles which says, ‘When a tree is young, you can bend it, but when it is old, if you try to bend it, you’ll break it’. The meaning behind this saying explains the relevance of acting timely on essential issues. I would add that whether essential or not too important, the need to be time conscious is quintessential. My focus in this piece isn’t on time management but the ability to bend. If the physical body had no natural capability to bend, humans won’t be as dexterous as they are. Our fitness and propensity come from our flexibility, which is one major reason that makes you bend and not break. A rubber is able to condone a stretch because of its elasticity. For it to break, it must have gone beyond its elastic limit.

Some people break easily because they are so inelastic. In a workplace, home or social setting, they are unable to accommodate a trace amount of what isn’t in their interest. Once they don’t like it, or maybe, it does not work in their favour, they just can’t take it; so, they snap or spark like two unlike poles touching each other, yet, they are the first to put on their profiles that they have strong interpersonal skills.

I used to know a cantankerous colleague who was very venomous. She had no regard for either superiors or mates. At a time, I concluded that she had a mental disorder because I didn’t know where to place her behaviour.

I believe that you shouldn’t only bend when you agree; sometimes, you may disagree and still bend in the interest of oneness and focus. I am not advocating that you should bend over issues that are despicable, but if another person’s idea, suggestion or argument is preferred to yours in a team, you must be willing to toe the line if you’re truly a team player. Abiding by the rules in spite of it not completely meeting your expectation is attitude of flexibility. You must not say yes to everything, but you must say yes to some things. Some people are so rigid; they never say yes to other people’s opinions, although prefer everyone accepting their conclusions. Such people see rigidity as strength, but it is transparently clear that it is their biggest weakness.

Rigidity is a bad attitude that develops into a terrible habit. For the sake of feeding their egos, some people just want to be heard. If it ends with being heard, it is okay, but for obdurate minded folks, who may even be top employers, employees or business leaders, they fight until everyone says they’re right. And with inordinate satisfaction, they go home feeling they’ve won a battle, even if they’ve lost the war.

Your interpersonal attitude shows in your communication skills. The way you relate is the way you communicate. You may speak the Queen’s English using all the vocabularies and grammatical expressions in the world, but if you’re not flexible, you’re not a good communicator – good communication does not only speak, it also listens and follows with a necessary corresponding action.

If you don’t bend, you can’t fit in (positively speaking). A size 18 woman who later wore a size 12 skirt did something to fit in – it took a serious bending in terms of mental and physical discipline for her to achieve that status. Her mates who still wear size 18 may admire her new outlook, but they can be like her only if they’re willing and ready to pay the price. Most times, you pay a price to bend. Unlike what most people think, flexibility is not convenient, neither is it free or cheap; it comes at a cost. Until I started writing this piece, it didn’t really dawn on me that flexibility is a capital-intensive attitude; I thought rigidity is the only factor that is cost-inclined.

Some walls are so high; you don’t have the skill to scale them, but if you can bend, you can tolerate and penetrate. This is the strategy many new companies coming up with new products use; they use what is called market penetration. Market penetration is a strategy where the offering is priced low, but with high promotions. So, rather than skim, they bend. They bend to get attention in the market because consumers are generally drawn to good products that are cheap. What consumers don’t realize is that the cost of entry into the market is borne by the companies themselves.

Bending, as in being cheap in order to gain access does not make you a fake product. This is what most people that flaunt their unnecessary egos should realize. Flexibility is a high quality product affordable only by a microcosm of people. It is a well cultured skill, ability and attribute.

Flexibility stoops to conquer; no wonder she wins all the time. Next time you are in that team meeting or involved in a deal, measure your level of elasticity to see how far you can stretch in order to accommodate a strain or stress. How much pressure can you take before you burst? How far can you go before you break? Your flexibility rate determines your mental state. If you’re easily depressed over trivialities, your mental strength is a suspect!

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Ken is a leadership Motivation, Strategy and Personal Development Writer, Blogger and Speaker. He writes for a number of magazines and blogs. He is also a mentor and published author of several books.

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