Flexibility, our superpower in a changing world

As a Behavioural Change Specialist, I help people change the responses, reactions and patterns of behaviour that have prevented them from having the life they deserve.

These blogs are intended to offer some useful perspectives and practical tips for us to expand our thinking, and enjoy the benefits that we discover as we do.

Please feel free to contact me directly should you wish to book a either an online or face to face consultation:

You are welcome to visit www// for more interviews, podcasts and videos


Follow the below link to listen to the brief discussion that we had on the "Mind Matters" show on the "Miller Time Sunday Breakfast Show".

Miller Time Podcasts:

The law of requisite variety suggests that "the part of a sytem with the most flexibility has the greatest influence on the system". Never before has this been so recognisable in the workplace after facing a global pandemic which has forced even the most reluctant to adapt to change. We each form part of various systems around us. In each of these systems, be it family, relationship, work or just our own bodies, our ability to adapt and influence depends on our ability to be felxible in our thinking.

Flexibility is the key to us finding opportunity in changing times. The good news is that it is never too late to open our minds to a more flexible way of thinking. Below are some ways that we can start opening our minds and aligning to opportunities that are ready and waiting for us to embrace:


We're often told that a good place to start any mindfull approach to change is to "know ourselves." I recently listened to a talk by Matthew Mcconaughey who put it really nicely and suggested that instead of looking to define who we are (this is such a massive concept) We are better served exploring who we are NOT.

I liked this approach because instead of encouraging a rigid definition of who we are, it invites flexibility and leaves the door open to growth and change as we choose. When we explore and define who we are NOT we are in essence aligning to our internal values. The mere fact that we can define behaviours and identities that we would not be willing to accept as ours, means that on an unconscious level we have had to check them against our internal values.

Side note: Our true values exist on an unconscious level, they are seldom recognisable consciously and certainly cannot be chosen from a list of predefined values .

By defining who we are NOT we can safely approach change, knowing that we will take care of what is important to us.

The question,"what are we not", includes an honest consideration of our own shortcomings, allowing us to identify areas that, we may be best served by seeking out people or tools that compliment our skills and abilities and fill the gap for us.

As we gain personal insights we might want ot consider them under the following headings:

What is your superpower?

These are the areas where our skills, knowledge, experience, personality traits, interests and natural tendencies meets.

Areas to improve

Once we've identified our shortcomings we can decide which of them, if any, are either worth our time and energy to improve or which we would like to improve for our personal satisfaction.

Gaps to fill

It is not always viable or necessary to approach our shortcomings with the aim to master them ourselves, sometimes simply being aware of them allows us to be better served by finding other people or tools to fill the gap for us.

What am I NOT?

By defining the entities that we are not prepared to assume we also become clear on the behaviours and choices that we refuse to adopt. This makes decision making a lot simpler as we move forward.


Is our mindset holding us back or opening the way for growth, opoprtunity and improvement? As leaders in our business, home or social groups it is worth paying attention to the mindset we adopt. Here are few concepts to consider. I prefer to rate these on a sliding scale and then review the list and decide which are useful, which we'd benefit from adjusting and which require some serious attention if we are going to become the leaders that we wish to be.

Interactive ---------------------------------------------- Lone ranger

Risk ---------------------------------------------- Caution

Answer first ---------------------------------------------- Ask first

Structure ---------------------------------------------- Chaos

Earn respect ---------------------------------------------- Demand respect

Reward ---------------------------------------------- Entitlement

Innovation ---------------------------------------------- Tried and tested

Clear ---------------------------------------------- Vague

Win/Win ---------------------------------------------- Win/Lose

Empathy -------------- Sympathy ----------- Indifference

Authentic ---------------------------------------------- Superficial

Empowering ---------------------------------------------- Controlling

Honest ---------------------------------------------- Dishonest

Transparent ---------------------------------------------- Secretive

Confident ---------------------------------------------- Uncertain

Feel free to add any other relative comparisons to your list as you gain an honest view of your approach to various roles that you fill, pay attentions to how you react, the things you say, the feeling you experience when ideas that are different to your own are presented. Step outside of yourself and imagine being in the shoes of those round you, how do you believe they expereince you?


Feedback is our friend if we recognise the value and opportunity that is wrapped up in it.

Too many people consider feedback to be either praise or criticism, neither of which is helpful or useful in anyway.

If we are being told that we're wonderful but not given specific reasons as to why we are considered wonderful it tells us nothing about what specifcially we are doing to add value.

If we're told that we are terrible, all that offers is a knock to our pride and sense of confidence, it hasnt actually added any useful insight into what we are doing wrong or what we could do to improve. How do we turn unuseful criticism or praise into something of value?

Simple.... just ASK!

When receiving praise: "Thank you for the compliment, may I ask what specifically you enjoyed or found value in, I prefer not to assume?"

When receiving critisism: "Thanks for the feedback, would you mind helping me improve by pointing out what specifically I could change to do better or what you found to be terrible and what you would suggest that I change, to be better?

I like to invite clents to think of feedback as a collabrative exchange of value aimed to improve, empower and grow. Fall in love with feedback and take responsibility for turning praise or criticism into an opportunity for you to grow.


Another idea that is applied in a systems theory approach is that any change in the system, changes the system. Recognising that our team, office, family, relationships or household is inflexible or demonstrates a limiting mindset may prompt us to want to change things. Like all real change, it starts from the inside and has a ripple effect outwards. There is not point imposing ideas rules or new ways of thinking onto those around us, the most effective way to bring about change is through changing ourselves first and then inluencing the "system" around us.

Every leadership development intititive or coaching relationship that I engage in with my clients works on an inside out approach because sustainable change is only possible when people choose to make fundamental internal shifts.


A nice exercise to challenge ourselves with is to approach challenges with the aim to find 3 possible solutions rather than just one.

Similarly when we are faced with situations of conflict or where others have a different idea about the situation instead of arguing and trying to convince others to see our point of view we can challenge ourselves to first ask. If we can put our thinking to one side and make uor best attempt to get an understanding of how their perspective makes sense to them, we will not only expereince more co-operation but may just learn something and become open to our own blind spots.

I dont usually "punt" my services in my blog but when it comes to changing mindsets and sustainable real change I don't believe that it is effective to rely solely on our own thinking. I strongly encourage those who are serious about developing their leadership, relationships or personal influence skills, to enage with a skilled coach, therapist or behavioural change specialist who can help you to not only identify the changes that will serve you, but to integrate those chancges on a conscious and unconscious level. This way those changes become your natural way of being, rather than just a theoretical consideration. A word of caution, if your coach therapist or change specialist is getting stuck in in analysing the problem, please find yourself a different specialist to work with, we are not aiming to get stuck in the past and reinforce the reasons for being stuck that is not helpful, the aim is the solution, the past is simply a clue or a point to start the work.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me on : or whats app me on: +27 83 564 9942

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