Being a flexible thinker is an absolute must for leader well-being.
The more flexible you are in your thinking:
✔︎ the less stuck you get.
✔︎ the less ‘fused’ you are with 1 way of doing things.
✔︎ the more options you have.
✔︎ the easier it feels.
Travelling recently reminded me how important flexibility is. In unfamiliar territory where you can’t read the road signs – it’s a must!
As an avid photographer, I always explore with my camera at the ready. What helped me make sense of the drama around me was how I framed the shot and zoomed my lens.
I could shift my frame and zoom to change perspective, narrowing or widening unfamiliarity, increasing or decreasing control over what I was taking in, constraining or freeing what I paid attention to.
By narrowing the frame, and moving out of the familiar, I could examine what was new in smaller doses as I became accustomed to the new territory. By keeping the frame narrow then widening the lens, I could gradually enlarge my focus and take in the bigger picture.
Exploring became easier over time, as the unfamiliar became increasingly familiar and I zoomed in and out to manage my sensory load.
Keeping ourselves open and adaptable
Keeping a flexible perspective is a way to keep ourselves adaptable and open to change.
Take Hugh for example; Hugh had been relatively guarded about how much change he was prepared to make.
WHAT he needs to change is clear.
HOW he needs to change is also clear.
WHY OTHERS need him to change is loud and clear.
What Hugh continued to wrestle with was his own WHY. He hadn’t fully committed to the value of the change for him, weighed up against the energy required to make the change.
He was open to naming his concerns when we started our last coaching session: ‘I’m finding it hard to motivate myself to change.’ He was low in energy and motivation. He’s in a big job with big demands.
He agreed to consider that a different perspective would help to reduce the pressure he feels. And that is a good (under the circumstances!) motivator.
By framing and zooming in our conversation, we examined some unfamiliar territory and this freed his thinking.
At the end of the conversation, Hugh had renewed focus and energy. He was prepared to try some new practices that could help him move past his own impasse.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”
~ Victor Frankl
An example; Robyn felt herself becoming stuck fixing crises. This was not high-value work for her.
She perceived a major lack of capability in a peer.
She felt responsible for making sure they got things done the right way.
She felt let down by the peer.
Shifting into 2nd position imagine the perspective of her ‘problem peer’ enabled a profound shift.
She felt empathy for her colleague’s experience and this immediately increased her compassion. It shifted her construction of the problem. She changed her approach.
Like Robyn, you don’t control what others think and do. But you always have control over the perspective you take on it. And that – YOU CAN CHANGE!
The Positioning Model
The positioning model also helps to increase thinking flexibility (feel free to give my Activity Sheet a try if you’d like to increase your own flexibility). It’s a simple yet highly effective way to explore situations with fresh eyes.
A New Perspective
I’ve recently started seeing my role as coach as being very much like that of the tour guide. That was reinforced on this latest trip that I took.
Exploring the temples, shrines, and pagodas on the Japanese island of Miyajima, getting the best view from the mountain-top, and navigating its narrow alleyways, was done in record time (for maximum enjoyment!) with our brilliant guide Nami.
As a coach, I’m your guide to show how you can successfully increase your leadership impact. I provide the map, give you an orientation, show you the key sites, light up the path and set you up to successfully navigate your way.
I help you put on your perspecticles!
To zoom in or out, to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar.
Watch my brief video below for tips on how to frame and zoom thinking so that you can approach your opportunities and challenges with greater flexibility.
How do you stay flexible in your thinking?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, please feel free to contact me and share.