A diver stands poised on the end of a pier. Knees bend. Muscles tense. He leans forward, tension-releasing to create an arching spring. He glides through the air, slicing into the waiting water and begins to swim.
Without the pier there could be no dive. As a matter of fact, without starting from a solid place one cannot reach the fluid place. This is the concept behind what I call: Structural Flexibility.
I know the last post frightened some people. Walking onto the pier and looking into the water is enough to make some decide not to take the dive. However, as can be seen, defining and utilizing structure is a necessity.
Others commented that having a less-defined structure, a “by-the-seat-of-the-pants” approach, worked better for them.
Imagine standing on the same pier, only now it is made of marshmallow fluff. The divers weight causes them to sink in. The fluff clings to his feet and ankles holding him in place. Attempting to spring off into the water sinks his feet in deeper. Then add the weight of an unforeseen event, such as a seagull landing on his shoulders. Think the dive is still possible?
Solid structure is the only way to get to the fluid state most of us prefer.
Let’s take a look at what Structural Flexibility allows.
We set a Goal to write a novel. We spend some time creating characters. Plot. Theme. Whether we do this by creating an outline or through five unplanned drafts matters not–eventually, to reach our goal of writing a novel we will have to create a structure of some type.
We will need to define the characters. We will need to know what happens and when. We will need a purpose for what we write with an end result in mind.
Example: Ben is an outcast. He will find himself thrust into a situation where he is the only salvation humanity has–the same humanity that treats him as an outcast. The story will showcase the lives and trials of outcasts, how they become so, why everyone has value, and the steps that can be taken to stop being an outcast. In the end, the story will show how to simply be yourself, do your best, and not worry about others harmful opinions.
This is a structure. From this point, a story can form. A character becomes a personage. A catharsis is built. And the process of building is where flexibility dwells. Look at all the different types of architecture and cars if you don’t believe me.
The same is true of goals, productivity, and time management. By planning–building a structure–we set ourselves up to gain flexibility–swimming in the water, or even flying through the clouds.
In the last post we looked at how to discover our available time, our life categories (the things most important to us), and how to build a GOT Hierarchy (c) (Goals, Objectives, and Tasks). This is the pier.
Taking the Dive
Today, let’s take a look at the dive. Once we know what is important to us, the targets we want to achieve, and the steps needed to hit our targets–what remains can be as flexible as we choose it to be.
If you’ve watched the Olympics you will have seen many types of dives. Some are quite rigid. Others full of grace and fluidity. Both get the diver to the water.
When we set schedules we are basically choosing the dive we want to make. If a deadline is looming, then we may need a more rigid approach. However, if we are simply trying to make headway, we can be more flexible–after all, the real goal is continuous progress.
Many people, myself included at various times, feel that once they set a goal, or schedule a block of time that it absolutely must be met or somehow they will have “failed.” While some tasks may be absolute, such as a deadline, most are not. And, the world will not end if we have to make an adjustment.
Having structure and a plan allows us to make these adjustments by showing us where we can insert missed items and what can be moved to accommodate unforeseen events or higher time demands than were expected.
Thus, we achieve flexibility (reaching the water) and increase our overall productivity (swimming forward) by first creating a known structure (the pier).
Before we end, I’d like to comment on “failure.” There is no such thing, unless we choose to give up and stop trying. Everything else is an unsuccessful attempt. A learning experience.
It is unfortunate that, for most of us, our memories do not include an objective view or our first few years. Watch a young child try to feed themselves. Or walk. They make a mess or fall down. They try again. Eventually, they gain the skills needed and continue on. Happily. Sure, there may be a few tears and a bit of frustration–but not nearly as much as would be caused by never learning to feed themselves or walk. “Failure” is where we learn and there is no shame in it unless we choose to quit or refuse to improve.
Build a Structure -> Choose Your Dive -> Adjust Without Shame
Do you see the advantages of Structural Flexibility? See any ways it could improve overall productivity and reduce stress? Do you think I’m nuts? *smile*
I’d love to chat with you.