How to combine commitment with flexibility

A cycle path swerves to avoid an unexpected phone box

A fifth type of mistaken thinking people can easily fall into during times of change is called attachment to outcome.

When times are stable, having a strong emotional attachment to achieving a goal can help us to accomplish it. But when everything is changing, no outcome is ever guaranteed. Being overly-attached to a particular outcome is likely to make it difficult to deal with changing circumstances, especially if that outcome doesn’t happen.

The solution is to let go of our emotional attachment to a particular goal while retaining our absolute intention to achieve it.

The best way to achieve that is by knowing our purpose.

When we know our purpose it matters less if circumstances change: we simply look for new ways of achieving the same purpose and then move forward again.

This is what Thomas Edison did as he worked to invent the lightbulb. Every time he failed (yet again) he told himself:

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

Then he moved on to his next attempt.

In a time of churning and change, this attitude will be invaluable. It will make you antifragile.

(It will also bring your work more meaning.)

What is the top priority you are working on right now? How flexible would you be if you ‘failed’ to achieve it? Do you know your life purpose?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Horia Varlan via StockPholio.net

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