You have goals and you have them because you want to achieve them. They might be big, hairy and audacious, but they are something you strive for.
At the same time you are accepting every meeting request, respond to every email and agree to every project or initiative handed to you. You are just what the business environment expects and life demands you to be, extremely flexible.
If you get to reflect on your larger plan in life or if you stick to a review cycle, you become conscious every now and then that you didn’t progress anywhere close to the goals you once set out for yourself. And you wish you only had more discipline.
When we look at inspirational figures and role models, in our current times or in history, it strikes me that those recognised, admired and respected for their achievements appear to be exclusively creatures of well-defined habits and uncompromising discipline.
The web is full of stories about individuals that made a difference and left a legacy not because they have been or are extremely flexible, but because they followed their cause with rigorous discipline.
Whether people get up every morning at 4am to write for 3 hours on their novel before going to work, practicing every day to become a master in martial arts or do not accept any meetings or calls in the morning as they focus on creating a new and successful product, they are the ones we admire, the ones that we accept as role models.
I do not remember a single person I have ever admired just for their flexibility, but I remember tons of people I respect for their unbelievable discipline and perseverance.
Corporate cultures and business environments across the globe make us believe that ‘being flexible’ is the most important skill to possess today. But the flexibility referenced is of pure reactive nature — it describes the ability to respond to ever-changing circumstances. It describes blades of grass bending with the wind into whatever direction it blows.
The shocking reality is that we all believe that this is indeed the single most important skill. And this is exactly why we are constantly overwhelmed and do not see much progress against our goals. Unfortunately this is true for individuals as it is for organisations.
We have forgotten the power of discipline. How far we can get if we persevere. The stability, structure and confidence that habits and rituals deliver. We have allowed our lives and our business strategies to become rubber band: So flexible that you can bend them beyond recognition.
None of the people we admire for their achievements in life or business have done this. Never.