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Students Learn Flexibility At Academic Summer Camp


The academic summer camp for teens and pre-teens, SuperCamp, tells students to get off what's not working. Shift perspectives. Maintain the ability to change what you're doing to get the outcome you desire.

Flexibility is being prepared for change and having the willingness to do things differently. If a strategy is not working, try something different until you find something that does work. Many times every day you face situations that look different from what you had planned. You could be rigid and continue to do things the same way over and over. Or you could be flexible and respond by adapting to the changing situation. Which response is more likely to produce your desired outcome in the long run?

Go on — make a change — try something different

People in their eighties and nineties looking back at their long lives have said that their regrets are more often about the opportunities for change they didn’t take than the ones they did. More often than not, change pays off. Hockey player Wayne Gretzky put it this way: “You miss 100% of the goals you never try for.”

Then why don’t people make more changes? What keeps people from trying new things? Comfort? Convenience? Fear of the unknown? Using old methods feels easier—even though it often isn’t.

How well do you handle change? Do you hold on to old ways of doing things even when you know they don’t work? We all do sometimes. It’s not easy to recognize or admit when something isn’t working. Some people routinely fight against change. You’ve probably known rigid, inflexible people who refuse to adapt to new circumstances. But let me ask you: How many highly successful rigid people do you know?

What’s flexibility? It’s the capability to adapt to new or changing situations to obtain the outcome you want. It’s the ability to get off what’s not working and find what does work. And it’s a prime ingredient of a successful life in a changing world.

Why Flexibility?

Every day we face situations that are different from what we expected or planned. But we do have choices when this occurs. We can be rigid and stick with a set of behaviors that no longer fit the plan—or we can adapt and handle the situation with flexibility. We all know that life does not follow a rigid plan. It’s fluid, dynamic, and ever-changing. Staying flexible means having the courage and openness to change when your situation changes.

Every aspect of our lives demands flexibility. You’re running six mornings a week to train for a tennis tournament but you sprain your ankle; instead of giving up, you swim in the mornings until you heal. You’ve planned lunch with an old friend at an upscale bistro, but when you learn that she’s bringing her four small kids you opt instead for a burger restaurant with a play area for kids. You’re planting a bed of red roses and need six more to finish, but your local nursery is out of the red variety—you alternate red with white. You get a great promotion, but at the same time your mother falls ill, so you defer your job change for three months so you can take care of her, but while you're there you study to prepare for your new position. Life can require flexibility in the greatest and smallest of situations.

Be ready to change what you’re doing to reach your goals

Flexibility challenges you to let go of what’s not working and try new things until you hit upon what does work. It’s hard to recognize—even harder to admit—when something’s not working. You’ve invested time, money, pride—and you’ve convinced yourself it has to work. To become flexible, develop the ability to recognize when it’s time to let go of an unworkable method and try something different. It’s hard on the ego, but until you admit you’ve got a problem, you can’t take the next step.

Try these steps to move toward greater flexibility:

• First, you have to accept the reality of change. Recognize that it’s normal to change the way you do things because it's inevitable that circumstances change. It’s nothing personal—it’s just the nature of life. The best plans in the world can become impractical or obsolete. Make it okay for something not to work.

• Second, in order to let go of things that aren’t working, learn to detach your ego. We get our pride wrapped up in our methods—we take the need for change as a personal attack on our intelligence or our ability. Or sometimes we just get stubbornly attached to our way of doing things because it’s “our way.” Make sure your ego doesn’t get in the way of your flexibility. Save ego for the results, not the means. Take your work, not yourself, seriously. What you want is more important than looking good.

• Third, challenge your assumptions. In order to see when change is needed, you have to become conscious of your beliefs about a situation. Don’t judge (and condemn) alternate paths before you’ve tried them. To increase awareness of your assumptions, become a rigorous questioner of your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Question your authority! Learn to ask yourself, “Why do I think that?”

• Finally, learn to recognize the difference between a plan that’s not working and a temporary setback. When things are not going well it could be because the method is bad and doomed to fail, or it may simply be a momentary pause in a massive upswing. How will you know the difference? Your gut will tell you. Tune in to your gut, then measure your results.

New ideas don’t come to those with closed minds. When you realize it’s time to reformulate your actions, break yourself wide open. Start by promising yourself to be wide open to new thoughts. Learn to suspend your assumptions and listen without judgment. Brainstorm. Branch out. Get creative. Explore as many possible solutions as you can. By throwing yourself open to the possibilities, you’ll discover avenues for success that you would never have considered before. You might even find ways to improve things that are working.

If you want to experience whole-life success, learn to dance with change. To succeed, you have to look for ways to make everything better. Suspend your assumptions, seek new ground, throw yourself headlong into the unknown.

Borrow ideas from other subjects, other applications. If you can find wisdom in the way a violin is tuned, that same method may apply to the way an annual report is written. If the patrol method used by Canadian geese to safeguard their flocks works for them, the same method might work to keep a group of nine-year-olds safe on a camping trip. Be willing to cross borders, mix and match, move methods from one application to another, and stand them on their heads.

Don’t fall back into rigidity if you find a possible solution and it doesn't work. If the old method wasn’t the method, this new one might not be it either. Be ready to try several new methods! Assign a deadline to the experiment and give it all you’ve got for the duration. If, in that time, it yields few results, let it go.

Complacency is the enemy of success. When you get comfortable, you stop moving forward. You dig in, shut down, doze off, disengage. Your spirit falls asleep. If complacency is the enemy of success, change is its best friend. Change wakes you up, gets you on your feet, and engages you.

But change for its own sake isn’t what I’m talking about here. It doesn’t work to simply change things randomly. The rule of thumb when it comes to change is to keep what’s working—and let go of what’s not.

Commit to Flexibility – it's fun, and it works!

When you commit to Flexibility, you’ll discover a side benefit—life’s more fun when you're flexible! Being open to change as you meet the unknown can be a thrill! A friend who’s president of a state university told me he knows he’s on track, moving things forward, when he feels a bit of fear. Do you sometimes find yourself tingling with fear? Do you experience that heightened sense of alertness and readiness that comes with facing change? Excellent! That’s how you know you’re flexible enough to enjoy the challenge of change—and the success it brings.

Affirmations for FLEXIBILITY:

• I challenge my assumptions in order to see when change is needed.

• When something isn't working, I try another way.

• I change strategies whenever it's necessary to attain my goals.

"When you're through changing, you're through." —Bruce Barton

SuperCamp summer programs fill up fast. Parents, go to http://www.SuperCamp.com now to learn about enrolling your son or daughter while space remains. Age-specific programs are available for students in grades 4-12 and incoming college freshmen. At the website, you also can get a free eBook that gives you an inside look at what works with teens from a world leader in youth achievement, SuperCamp co-founder Bobbi DePorter.


Submitted by:

Jim Hartley

Jim Hartley works for Quantum Learning Network, a company that focuses on children and teen education and life skills.





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