Have you noticed that life is full of surprises that demand your attention when you have other things planned to do? Your daily routine can get interrupted on a regular basis and you realize that you can’t afford to ignore these interruptions. I’m not talking about being dominated by the tyranny of the urgent when you drop whatever you’re doing to respond to someone else’s demand. I’m referring to those occasions when you legitimately have to react to situations that arise with little warning and require careful and measured attention. Even though you have a course of action planned for the day that you are trying to stick to, there is something you need to effectively and regularly deal with the unexpected. What is it? Flexibility – the ability to make adjustments on the go and still finish what you start.
This reminds me of a day some years ago that Arlene and I decided to go for a run. It was a sunny afternoon in the middle of winter that turned out to be more pleasant when looking outside from our living room window than it was when we got outside on the road. The air was clear and refreshing, with the temperature well below freezing which we were dressed and prepared for. However, as we got into our run, things changed quickly. A strong northwest wind started blowing in our faces with gusts approaching 50 kilometers an hour. The sun disappeared and wet flurries began to cover our bodies. This was not close to how things were when we started out, but we were too far along to not consider finishing. We were seeing clear signs that a snow storm was well on its way which meant we would have to adjust how we were running to be successful. We no longer stood straight as we ran, but instead bent our heads and bodies into the oncoming wind in order to cut down on the resistance that was pushing hard against us. We also accepted the reality that our finish time would be much slower than normal. However, our flexibility paid off. By making some simple adjustments, we completed our course and felt exhilarated by the run which is really what we had set out to do.
This experience teaches a life lesson that can help you to finish what you start in spite of surprises that appear to stall you or push you back. For example if you are pursuing maturity as a Christian and growth as a leader, be advised that you will face winds of adversity from time to time. When these winds begin to blow, it sometimes means that a storm is coming your way that will test your resolve to reach your goal. Your best approach during those times is to make some adjustments to your plan in order to be successful. Flexibility does not mean changing your plan altogether, but rather adjusting some of the details in light of the adverse conditions. Don’t get downcast when things change. Instead, do what it takes to get yourself in a better position to finish what you start. Yes, it may take you a little longer than originally anticipated, but the taste of finishing can actually be more satisfying because of adversities faced and overcome.
I still prefer running the course when the weather is sunny and warm and the winds are gentle. However, there are some things that I can only learn when the conditions are not ideal and being forced to make adjustments as needed gives me the opportunities to develop this quality.