Dear Christian Radio,
How often can you say that your day has gone exactly as planned? My guess is that your answer is “never,” or (if you’re blessed) “almost never.” That’s because life has a tendency to just happen. Things will crop up in your day that are unplanned and unexpected. That is why having a willingness to be flexible is so powerful! Practicing flexibility is not just about adapting to changes as they come; it is staying open to new ideas, new processes, and being willing to start over and try something else, when necessary.
So then, what does “be flexible” really mean? According to our good friend Google, flexibility is the quality of bending easily without breaking. Bending sounds easy enough, but sometimes we may find it more difficult to bend in certain situations—either for ourselves or others. There’s a reason you’ve heard the phrase “digging one’s heels into the ground”—people can be stubborn!
There are ways to overcome stubbornness and find a more bendable spirit. In doing so you can improve your own level of flexibility, while encouraging others on your team to do the same. One important way to improve flexibility is to be prepared and plan ahead. A few good examples are when you’re working out the details for a station event, preparing for a team meeting, or building your show plan for the day – in each case you are planning ahead! Planning becomes the framework, thus, allowing you to proceed onward toward taking action.
When you plan ahead, think beyond just today or even this week. Be willing to look 30 days, 90 days, or even six or more months ahead. By doing this you improve your ability to be flexible when the unexpected happens; and become more capable of maintaining your current track without fear of having your plans completely derailed.
Being unprepared can feel a lot like quicksand. When you’re unprepared for one activity it can quickly cause a chain reaction that leaves you unprepared for the next. The cycle continues until, eventually, you’re sunk. Think of it this way…you’re an on-air talent who is planning tomorrow’s show. Your grid is set in stone, but then, you get this amazing call that is incredibly connective. Are you going to sacrifice the chance to bring encouragement to your listener simply because your grid is already set? Hopefully not! More than likely you’re going to find a way to be flexible and work it in! Use that same mentality in every area of your work.
Despite all of your plans and best intentions, the unexpected will happen. However, just expecting the unexpected can help you be flexible when you need to be. Therefore, go ahead and start making your plans now so you’re prepared. Never be so rigid that you can’t adjust on the fly.
Your ears can be one of the most flexible parts of your body. How, you might ask? Well, your ears give you the ability to hear other ideas, other opinions, and other thoughts beyond your own that may stretch you beyond yourself. Having the willingness to be open to trying new ideas and/or finding new ways to accomplish your goals is the key to being flexible!
One of my favorite sayings of all time is, IWWCW: In What Ways Can We? I believe the concept originated from Dale Carnegie, and it’s simply a way to encourage us to focus on the positive path forward. Instead of approaching a new challenge or opportunity as, “Oh heavens, how am I going to get around this?” we approach it with a spirit of, “Oh wow, how can this opportunity help us live out our mission/vision?” It can be likened to a business version of the, Is the glass half full or half empty scenario. By taking on these challenges with a “How can we?” attitude—instead of a “Do we have to?”—you’ll start to see more flexibility in your own work as well as that of your team.
Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Flexibility is simply bending easily without breaking. As you practice this yourself, try to create an environment in which failure is okay for both you and your team. Here’s the reason: if your team is constantly afraid of repercussions due to failure, they will never be motivated to try new things and take risks. So I encourage you to bend as far as you can without fearing the break. If it happens, learn from the experience and get back up. Give yourself—and your team—permission to fail and they will learn from the failure. Now that is being flexible, friends!
Dear Christian Radio…
- Be flexible. Preparation and planning are incredibly important; don’t let them be the chains that bind you. Leave enough room in your planning process so that it allows for flexibility.
- Be open to trying new things. Thomas Jefferson said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done before.” Change the world, shake things up, and truly inspire others in ways you never have before. Doing so requires a willingness to be open to new challenges and opportunities. Embrace them!
- Be willing to try new things, and fail if necessary. Keep trying and learn from the failures—that’s the important part.
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