Working in most corporate settings involves subscribing to a set of written and unwritten boundaries. The better organizations give you the flexibility to create your own boundaries within given parameters, but there are too many where the externally imposed boundaries are too rigid and seek to stifle the individual.
These are the so-called “toxic” cultures. When something is so rigid, it is likely to break.
As a species, we have an evolutionary tendency to “adapt or die,” but it is not to say that this flexibility should be without newly created boundaries. When a familiar habit is so ingrained that it cannot react to a new reality, it hampers us reaching our potential. On the other hand, when we are adept at creating new habits when required (and resetting the correct boundaries along the way), our potential for growth shifts into a higher gear.
In the world of the Gig Economy where people are increasingly taking their destiny into their own hands, ensuring the right boundaries (but allowing yourself the flexibility to change them at any time) has never been so important. You might think that a flexible boundary is not much of a boundary, but I would tend to disagree.
Our minds need a set of instructions to follow, a neural “how to” guide for making life’s choices. Many of these instructions are defined by the boundaries that we set for them, and often different circumstances call for different boundaries. Flexibility means being present and understanding what life is asking of you (and people around you) on any given day, and changing the boundaries accordingly. We shouldn’t be so flexible that we become “spineless” in our principles, but flexible enough that we can achieve anything with anyone if we put our minds to it.
If we aim to be flexible in any area of our life (including how we work), we have to allow ourselves the freedom to deconstruct and reconstruct boundaries at the drop of a hat. Continuing unsuitable ways of working can prove damaging if we do not choose to amend our behavior at the right moment. We may find ourselves banging our head against the brick wall if the market is not ready for our product and we are not mentally ready to pivot. Relationships can quickly sour if one person changes and the other is not willing to change with them. If you are not stuck in your habitual groove, then veering “off track” will seem like a gentle switch of direction rather than a tumble into the abyss.
With any hint of rigid thinking, the specter of failure is never far away.
On a hugely positive note, allowing ourselves to be flexible and consistently enjoying the benefits of this flexibility is incredibly good for our mental health. In creating new boundaries, we understand that we are still in control of our destiny, but if things don’t work out as planned, we know that we have the mental strength to come up with a “Plan C.” If Plan F eventually worked out in the past, we know that it might work in the future.
We need to forgive ourselves the “wrong” turns and gift ourselves the flexibility of thought and action to get there.