“Flexibility is the Key to Longevity.”
Think about that statement for a moment. Flexibility is the key to longevity.
I first encountered that statement almost over two decades ago while stationed with the US Army at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. The Operations Sergeant of my Military Police unit had it blown up to poster-size and hanging on the wall behind his desk.
As with all new members assigned to the 21st MP Company, I was asked, “Do you understand what that means?” And, like most I’m sure, my response to a senior was, “Yes, sergeant.” My affirmation was not at all related to what I think of that same phrase today.
To a disgruntled young soldier who had better things to do than put up with the “hurry-up and wait” organization that I perceived then, the phrase meant, “put up with all of the changes, and changes to the changes we throw at you and you’ll last much longer.”
Ironically, I came to find that – he was right! Except that it’s not just an ‘Army thing.’ What I have come to realize is that, regardless of whether we’re talking about a fight, a relationship, or just living, life is filled with change. In fact, there is nothing more permanent than change. Isn’t that funny? The only thing that doesn’t change is change-itself. And our own individual ability to adapt to those changes in our life, determine our own level of happiness, satisfaction, and ‘survivability.’
Phrases like: “There’s always something,” and, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” are right. They are 100% accurate and the sad thing is that – there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it. But, that’s also the good news. We can stop chasing after permanence. We can stop fighting change because it’s a losing battle. Stress, or what most people call stress, which is the tension and anxiety that occurs when things don’t go our way, is what happens when we assume that things will happen just because we want them to. We expect that the world will magically conform to our wishes without any awareness or planning on our part. “It worked yesterday,” is the general belief along with, “if it hasn’t broken yet, it won’t.”
In the scrolls of the Takagi-Yoshin school of martial warriorship that has been past down for the last several hundred years, there is a key for winning in every battle. It’s simple, and I’d like to share this age-old wisdom with you.
Are your ready? Here it is:
“Don’t enter a battle you can’t win.”
Our ability to be adaptable and to have more than one way of doing things is essential to winning the battles of day-to-day life.
That poster means much more to me today than it did to that young man years ago. I can still hear my Sergeant’s voice as he asks…
“…Do you understand what it means?”
And, I can hear my answer to him.
“It means…put up with all of the changes, and changes to the changes that are thrown at you and you’ll last much longer.”
Take a deep breath…
…enjoy the ride.
I’ll see you in class.