Welcome! fisc is an abreviation of 'flexibility is cool'. The site is a collection of blogs to promote the use of flexibility in our personal and professional lives, to help manage uncertainty and achieve growth.
As our lives become more VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), personal flexibility can be helpful as a coping mechanism. It gives us piece of mind and options.
Eventually, many of us will encounter certain life events like; retirement, moving countries, or ‘empty nest’ down-sizing. Such events might help us shed cost and excess physical capacity. But not necessarily the life complexity we’d like to simplify. How so? We can anticipate that downsizing will likely be undermined, when complexity compliance acts as a brake. One simple example is that empty nest parents don’t stop being parents (or offspring of their own, perhaps ailing parents), just by downsizing their house, after the kids leave home.
So how can we achieve matching, so that downsizing and simplifying the complexity of our lives go together?
Using personal flexibility as a tool to alter the complexity before downsizing is one avenue to explore. On this, we can take inspiration from our own brains. Each night, our brains exhibit personal flexibility, in relaxing the body (reducing the complexity of physical activity) in preparation for sleep.
Another personal flexibility example is time flexibility – buying time to reduce complexity before we downsize. For example, hiring specialists to help us ‘get our affairs in order’ and simplify the maintenance time required.
Reducing complexity and downsizing together is another option. For example, we can build up a passive income portfolio, to replace the need for us having to work a 40 hour week, therefore downsizing the number of hours worked. And the complexity of handling a full-time job.
Regarding complexity, in the same way that households and wage earners have fixed & variable costs to pay for, (think of rent/mortgage payments and food bills respectively), complexity can also be described as fixed or variable. There is however no direct relationship between cost type and complexity type – you can have any mix of both. But in a VUCA environment, some combinations are likely to be more troublesome than others. For example, high fixed cost, high life complexity.
Some examples of fixed complexity in our personal life are as follows;
the number of family members in our immediate family group,
the number of places we can physically be at any one time,
regular bill paying tasks each month e.g. utilities and rent/mortgage.
Some examples of variable complexity in our personal life are as follows;
the number of key relationships and purchases we manage each month,
the range of improvements we try to make each month,
the range of disagreements or arguments we have each month,
the number of crises we face each month.
Personal flexibility thinking is about designing both costs & complexity to be as variable as possible, regardless of our (own perceived) level of expertise, other people’s dependency on us, our career success, or our bank account balance.
Why is variable complexity in our lives desirable? Fixed complexity doesn’t stay fixed forever, so by coping with variable, we can cope with fixed complexity (inevitably) becoming variable. Assuming fixed complexity may lead to complacency and stop us looking for improvements i.e. personal growth opportunities. Some types of fixed complexity in our lives may be an illusion. When the unexpected occurs, for example our teen or adult children bring home a partner and behave differently in the partner’s presence, this reminds us not to make assumptions.
Health living – is a series of choices. Unhealthy dying is a consequence of not making the right choices. You may not care what others think, but ultimately, your body will care.
Hope – is like gravity. It anchors us to a great planet, surrounded by people we can help. And those who will reach out to us, if we let them.
Human creativity – a lucky dip inside your head, planting an action point in someone else’s head. Mentally reaching for the sky, flying solo with eagles and rainbows, then making a perfect landing. Problems in our neighbourhoods cry out for design ideas in our heads and courage in our hearts. The creative process is more Picasso, Dali and Pollock. The dependency process is more still life and pointillist.
Management – bountiful control over scarce resources needs to become scarce control over bountiful resources.
Parenthood – a mission to the outer limits of your character. To boldly go where you never thought you would go before. Starring as the support actors in your own long-playing, family adventure movie. Becoming a parent is like being a fashion photographer. You get to help the subject on their own road to success, yet they think theyalone have all the talent!
Personal growth – life isn’t about finding Nemo. It’s about creating yourself. Making progress depends both on finding truths and accepting them as friends. Look on the bright side – the winds of change take us through some pretty amazing scenery.
Politicians – some politicians hope to use politics to achieve a beautiful result. Some supermodels use beauty to achieve a political result.
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When things go wrong, sometimes you get a second chance to fix your mistake. Your determination and your time to reflect, may mean delivering a significantly better version the second time round. Compared to achieving a modest result if you did it error-free from the beginning.
What about when things go well? There should be both an observable improvement and some recognition, right? But getting recognition is a two-step, flexibility shuffle. Step one is doing stuff to make the World a better place. You have to be flexible to think like that and to achieve it. Even then, people won’t necessarily notice your efforts straight away. Let alone give you direct credit. You might donate some money to a worthy cause. Give credit where it’s due. Or show a stranger a random act of kindness.
Incidentally, doing stuff to help teaches you something. To look outward. To be observant and appreciate what you see, including noticing the semi-hidden efforts of other unsung heroes. Doing helpful stuff teaches you that you’re not pre-destined to follow the rut of one, self-serving, materialistic pathway. It makes you a better parent or career. You can forge a more interesting & ultimately a more satisfying path. Doing stuff to help also teaches you to give more efficiently. And more graciously.
The World’s orbit runs further. And suddenly, you get someone else’s help. Or their high praise. That help benefits you in all kinds of ways you hadn’t thought of. It might come in the form of visible mentoring. Or as less visible patronage. The benefit endures, enlightens, reassures and entertains you.
The second shuffle is you pivoting to bigger, better things. Running on the legs of self confidence and observer applause.
The length of your orbit is determined by your flexibility to grow. The recognition, your destiny.
If someone spends effort (time and money) to journey from a ‘one door’ environment (inflexibility) to arrive at a place of many doors, that effort (and the effort to open the door) is the price of flexibility. The value of flexibility is then realised after they open the new door. A simple example is getting an education.
Maybe as a society, we spend too much time trying to value what’s behind the closed doors. And forget to invest in the first part – the price of moving (back) to the place in front of the doors. It’s worth noting that this part is both easier to measure and clearer to see.
It works in reverse too. As someone specialises (in their career say), they progressively leave the ‘many door’ environment behind. However, as long as the value of specialisation exceeds the value of flexibility (often true in low risk environments), life is good.
Life gets more complicated when there is fog rolling in and you only occasionally catch a glimpse of a set of doors to approach. Or when the environment changes so rapidly, that there are new sets of doors appearing on a frequent basis.
The need for (career path) reinvention comes with environmental change (also true of parenthood, by the way). By continuing to invest in flexibility while you specialise (transferable skills, wider skills), the reinvention process is lubricated.
Reinvention requires more than just agility (reaction time & expertise in jumping paths). You also need to find or create a new door environment in advance. And it’s worth bearing in mind that making your own new door (self employment) can be more powerful and more liberating than standing in a vast queue outside the new door you choose, but don’t construct yourself.
What do you think?
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Ambition – pride and confidence become the legs for ambition to run on. However, too much speed is fatal. Too little speed means watching the world go by without us.
Anniversaries – rest the clock for a day to the feelings we had when we first met. Anniversaries are like fishing nets, dragging in time to nourish us. They make us untangle the moments we value the most.
Café society – one person’s caffeine arrival is another person’s great escape. Offering coffee on sublime time and a five-finger response to a one-finger world. Express expresso expression.
Career planning – is like skating on ice. You can only go in a straight line for so long. And even then, the surface ahead is of uncertain strength.
Comfort zones – personal comfort zones are footprints in a circle, that slowly become one foot in the grave. Opportunity zones are paths leading to the horizon, that lure the human spirit on a quest.
Computer gaming – if Einstein had been a modern day, patent office clerk, would he have spent his time playing online computer games, instead of reshaping the field of physics?
Conflict – warring countries are like athletes fighting on the starting line, while other countries go on to win medals and fame. National progress relies more on inventors and teachers. And less on soldiers.
Conservation – global warming needs cold air solutions, not hot air discussions.