Have you ever watched world-class athletes warm up before a competition? They stretch, sprint, trot, jump, and contort their bodies in ways that look as though they’re not doing much of anything. All of those pre-game exercises are designed to make their muscles more elastic.
Flexibility is a common denominator for all the best athletes, whether they’re a first baseman who hardly moves over nine innings or a running back who carries for 100 years a game. When athletes are flexible, they jump higher, kick harder and swim faster. Flexibility enables the tennis player to lunge for her opponent’s rocket of a serve or a point guard to leap over a defender on a drive to the basket. Training the body to be flexible is necessary for an athlete’s success.
Flexibility in mind and spirit is just as important in business and life. By definition, flexibility means the ability to cope with variable circumstances; capable of being changed or adjusted to meet particular or varied needs.
When our bands perform, change can happen in an instant. A good example is the song list. We always have a list prepared, but we constantly vary the order of songs depending on the energy of the audience. We may slow the pace to engage older guests or replace an oldie with a current hit for a younger group. We might get a request from the client to perform overtime or take a break for a toast. Live performances are a moving target. The band has to stay flexible and focused to hit the bull’s eye.
As we’ve seen, planning is essential to creating. As we’ve also seen, though, plans don’t always work out. There are obstacles because the flexibility necessary to overcome them makes the creative process more of an adventure. Many times upon hitting a roadblock, an idea occurs to me out of thin air that wouldn’t have without the setback.
When I’m in a situation in which I’m not sure what to do, I ask myself, “If I DID know what to do right now, what would it be?” Often, the solution appears rather quickly. If it doesn’t, I hold tight and stay focused until something comes to mind. Be open-minded.
When my oldest son was 5 years old, he and his younger brother were riding bikes in the driveway. They had just learned to ride and I was concerned they were going to crash into our parked car. “Stay away from the car,” I told them. After warning them a third time, my oldest boy rode his bike up to the chair where I was sitting and asked, “Dad, why don’t you move the car?” Now why didn’t I think of that? It was the logical solution. We both got what we wanted, thanks to the flexibility of a 5 year old and my keeping an open mind.
Once you decide what you want to create and start taking action, ideas may come to you that were not part of your plan. Embrace them all. Not all of them will work, but trust your instincts enough to give each one a fair shake. That trust will allow you to open doors of opportunity that you cannot imagine.
This excerpt is from Chapter 14 of Dennis’ book Rock ‘n’ Roll, Martial Arts & God: Tips on Success from the Masters, available on Amazon.