Monday, September 19, 2011

Flexibility or Expandability? That was the question...

Flexibility and expandability are both very valuable traits to have. However, I think their value is dependent upon how we define them and on what aspects of our being we are referring to.

Flexibility is defined as the ability "to bend without breaking". In this sense of the word, I think it is extremely valuable to be flexible - equally in terms of our minds, bodies and spirits. In all three areas we should constantly be able to open or bend. We should be open to new ideas, experiences and ideologies or ways of life. However, we also have to take care not to allow ourselves to break or become damaged. Sometimes we are too open. So open that we are no longer grounded in our ideas, actions or emotions.

Flexibility is also defined as "easily influenced". In this sense of the word, I feel that flexibility is not valuable. Although this conception of flexibility may seem similar to above, notice here the emphasis on "easily". Yes, we should be open to change, but I worry when change comes easily. Any change - meaningful change - should be done thoughtfully, and with a clear understanding of the intention and the result. When a change is made easily (notice here that I am assuming easily to be synonymous with quickly or fleetingly) it is very rarely done with this clarity. This can lead to all sorts of problems. Things can happen that we did not intend to. Or we may not be able or willing to accept the consequences of the change.

Expandability is defined as "to become expanded; spread out, unfold or enlarge". I think it is very valuable that one is open to expand and unfold. Isn't that the goal of the journey of life? To expand our experiences and knowledge as our physical form grows and unfolds into adulthood? Yes, some would argue that. However, I am hesitant to expand or unfold, especially in terms of my emotions and my willingness to  support others emotionally, to the point where I am no longer grounded or able to protect myself. Because, of course, the result of unfolding is that what has been unfolded is now open and exposed. Like the typical Pisces that I am, I always try to make myself available to my friends and family. To provide whatever emotional comfort or support they need. But in the same Piscean fashion, I am constantly in need of emotional comfort and support. So, if I am too focused on comforting and supporting others, I leave little-to-no reserves to comfort and support myself. Yoga (yay yogis!) teaches us that we must first ground ourselves in order to be able to expand out to the world around us. Without this initial grounding, we have no energy to spare to hold ourselves up. And if we cannot hold ourselves up, how can we ever expect to lend a helping hand in holding someone else up?

Therefore, I think, that flexibility and expandability are both equally valuable traits to have, as long as we are clear on how we conceive of each and how being either/or affects us.

Now I want to hear what you think! Which is more important to you and why: flexibility or expandability?

Thanks for reading!


Oh, and FYI:
Final Word Count – 524
Final Character Count – 2, 933…with spaces

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I feel there are two ways to look at this comparison. Flexibility without breaking, in terms of the mind, body and spirit means (to me) the ability to "go with the flow" handle stress, withstand physical stress and exhibit endurance, and the ability to roll with the punches but remain true and whole. If someone is easily influenced, gullible is the word that comes to mind, they need to learn to think on their own instead of being mindlessly led.Expandability, to me, means the ability to spread out, unfold, enlargen in the realms of knowledge, wisdom, capacity to take in others, new places, new feelings and emotions.
    Of course, as you suggest, we need to know our breaking point, have a deep understanding of ourselves and our abilities and limits.
    The other suggestion I had regarding the difference between flexibility and expandability touches a bit on what you have written but asks us to look at it from a much simpler and higher level. Consider the work team that goes through the team building process of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Each member of a truly high performing team must learn to be more "expandable" in thinking than "flexible" because a collaborative team is desireable versus a team that agrees through consensus. To be able to expand our knowledge and experiences and collaborate and agree upon solutions is much desired over the team member who says "I am flexible" but truly does not understanding or care about the final decision and how it is reached.
    Just a thought.