Time Management and Personal Flexibility

‘If you can fill the unforgiving minute, with sixty seconds worth of distance run…’ Rudyard Kipling

‘Time and tide wait for no man’ Geoffrey Chaucer

‘Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day. Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way. Kicking around a piece of ground in your home town. Waiting for someone or something to show you the way’. Pink Floyd, from their song ‘Time’

‘When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity’ Albert Einstein

‘Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years’. Stephen Hawking

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We all have those moments.  Everything seems to happen at once. We spend the morning running to catch up. Or the opposite. We’ve put everything in motion and just have to play the waiting game.

We can’t change the rhythm of time. Any more than we can stop the sun rising on a new day. But we can try to make the best use of our time. We owe it to ourselves to collect significant and enjoyable memories. Memories forged in the fires of interesting experiences.

Maybe we can open ourselves up to interesting experiences, by deliberately surprising ourselves. If each of us embraced one new experience, however small, once a month, and we averaged a catch up with our friends, once every three months, that’s 3 fresh and interesting things to tell them about, each time we see them. And if they did the same, 3 fresh things for them to tell us about too.

If we started that ‘new experiences’ pattern at age 20 and kept it going for a mere 20 years, that’s 240 new experiences to consume! And 240 opportunities to boost our confidence. It’s also a great example of personal flexibility (PFL) in action.

Now imagine if 50% of those new experiences taught us a life lesson. Something to make us wiser and more skilful. That’s 120 training opportunities, however small. And 120 things of value we can pass on. And not just to friends. But to the next generation of our loved ones too.

Something to think about.

Simon

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Networks and Personal Flexibility

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Just as individuals at work make up teams, who make up organisations, so individual family members make up nuclear families who are part of wider family groupings too. Individuals also form networks with their friends, work colleagues and various online communities of interest in the wider world.

Each interaction the individual has may vary in; the length of the exchange, its style (level of structure, informality and language used). And in the baggage that comes with each communication. Is there a long history of frustration or rivalry? Is it a very new relationship? It there a lot of trust and goodwill built up between the parties involved?

It takes quite a bit of personal flexibility to compartmentalise all those interactions. To remember what you said to who. And when. What their reaction was. What they asked you to do. What you agreed with them. Or promised to do. What you need to do, now that other events have unfolded.

Clearly there are memory aids to help. Diaries, checklists and notepads. Your prompting children or spouse. But it’s hard to get through a lifetime of all those interactions, without getting it wrong at some point.

At best, relationships are a journey of discovery. Some might say a minefield. Over time, you find out people’s preferences. Their desires. What offends them. What sets off an emotional reaction that isn’t necessarily what you were expecting. And because human beings are complex and changing, you can’t expect that what used to work well in the past, will necessarily still work in the future.

Personal flexibility (PFL) comes into its own to cope. Accept a best efforts effort from yourself. If you learn and adjust, apologise even, people will give you marks for trying. Try trusting them to see the bigger picture.

You may even find yourself becoming the ‘switch’ in the network from time to time. The person others go through in their various exchanges. The person they ask advice from before they act. It’s ok to be exasperated when your friends or family don’t take the advice you give them. The important part is to keep growing and evolving as a person. No one predefines your life for you.

It’s your path to tread and your direction to choose. Bon voyage.

Simon

Human Relationships and Personal Flexibility

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Flexibility and friendships

One form of personal flexibility (PFL) is in the crossover between personal friendships & workplace relationships. This blogger has first-hand experience of several professional relationships developing into personal friendships, forged from helping a friend-in-need, or through shared-conflict experienced. In this blogger’s view, the relationship combination works better where both parties are evenly matched.  Or think alike. And if the relations aren’t complicated by romantic love or lust.

Ideally, someone’s romantic partner should also be their best friend. It helps if they don’t work in the same professional team.  Especially if at different levels in the hierarchy.

Strong professional working relationships and strong personal friendships have some similarities:

  • mutual trust and mutual respect is high in both.
  • both have been tested and ‘weathered the storm’.
  • both have a high degree of openness.
  • both retain a foundation of shared experiences. And perhaps a shared triumph of beating the odds.

In fairness to the employer, two friends who work together, need to put their work relationship first. And make sure there is no perceived bias in the workplace.  But that merit prevails. Otherwise there is likely to be a perceived conflict of interest.

The trust in one domain (personal or professional) should carry into the other, speeding up some actions. However, for the parties concerned, try and avoid calling in favours in the workplace, from any favours previously done in a personal capacity. It doesn’t seem to be such a problem when the reverse situation happens. In fact, speaking from experience several times over, that approach can launch a solid, personal friendship.

Flexibility and romantic relationships

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There are two phases to this – a relationship-building phase and a relationship-nurturing phase. Initially, the people involved should use flexibility to break convention and create ‘wow’. And be flexible enough to handle love & lust together.

It’s important to be flexible (FL) about pace – sometimes ‘still waters run deep’ and first impressions aren’t necessarily reliable. People should strive to be the best they can be.  But even more importantly, be authentic. In fact, be FL-authentic!

In the subsequent relationship-nurturing phase, the people involved should try to oscillate between honeymoon period and enduring partnership as often as they can. Happiness comes partly from magic.  And magic comes from unpredictability & mystery.

Both partners should realise that what they start out loving about a person, may not be what they end up loving about them. This is true of general friendships also.

Relationships are a journey, not a status. For love to develop, it takes an FL-mindset. Otherwise it’s just endurance.

Case study: In the 1997/98 Hollywood movie ‘As Good as it Gets’, directed by James Brooks, starring Jack Nicolson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear, against extraordinary odds, the characters show enough personal flexibility to grow and improve their life situations. Interestingly, although each character has a very different situational struggle and a different mindset, their personal flexibility created enough of a relationship, for love and friendship to eventually blossom.

Flexibility and parenthood

Firstly, parenthood is simultaneously a marathon, a relay race, a hurdles race & a sprint. Arguably, the price of sanity & safety is eternal vigilance. No parent is born an expert. Fortunately, the person gets to learn and practise every day that they show up for parenting duty. No one expects them to do parenting completely alone. Therefore, they need to be flexible and reach out to friends and family for help, as necessary.

Secondly, a person arguably stops being a child when they become a parent. That said, plenty of childless adults make very good grown-ups. Role models, babysitters, mentors, aunties and uncles too!  Having one child will utterly transform someone’s life. Having more than one child will transform their bank balance. Either way, roll with it!

Thirdly, parenthood, like falling in love with someone – an act of supreme flexibility. In both cases, the person just knows it will be a life-changing experience, testing their boundaries, their patience and their self-view. There will be apologising.  And learning from mistakes made along the way. That’s all personal flexibility at its best.

As a parent how can you use PFL to be more effective at parenting?  One approach is to promote FL in the things that you are a parental stakeholder in. To elaborate, none of the following things are set in stone. Every day brings a fresh opportunity to alter those things for more positive outcomes. On striving for more positive outcomes, this blogger has figurative scars and skin in the parenting game, having been a step parent to two children for 13 years, as well as the parent of a trans-gender child.

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Things you are a parental stakeholder in:

  • Your child’s school. Try to become engaged in the parent-teacher association (PTA) at the school, even if for just a few hours a year. If the school is not be catering for the learning and social development needs of children like yours, use the PTA as a platform for change.
  • Your child’s health.
  • Your child’s future career and leadership opportunities. More about this in a future blog on career’s advice and career management.
  • Your child’s confidence level. This needs parental PFL to create a dynamic mix of; realism, successes, structure, authority, grief, love and setbacks. It hopefully involves your child improvising and ‘winging it’ when they have to.
  • Your child’s relations with wider family members. Them learning to interact with a variety of family ages and personalities will help their PFL and confidence develop.
  • Your child’s memories of growing up. A parent’s job is arguably to balance any bad memories with some good ones too.
  • Your child’s inheritance.

If you found this blog helpful, feel free to tell others. Constructive comments are also welcome.

Simon