Have you ever played the game TWISTER? If you have and ended up with right foot green and left hand yellow which can absolutely twist you up (no pun intended) you know a thing or two about flexibility. However, there is more to learn when you play. During TWISTER you have to be able to respond to “spinner” after “spinner” in order to win. It’s not enough that you responded well nine times out of ten, to be the winner you need make it happen ten out of ten.
You might be asking yourself, “What does the game of TWISTER have to do with the Habit of the Mind “think flexibly”? Thinking flexibly means being able to consider and generate alternatives and options and to realize that there is more than one vantage point from which to look at each challenge or situation. Thinking flexibly is about looking at things differently. It might also be about willingly thinking with others who will also add flexibility to your thinking because no two people see things that same way, so when you consider another’s viewpoint you are inviting yourself to consider more flexibility that when thinking alone. Steven Covey would call this Habit #6 Synergize, which is to combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork so as to achieve the goals no one person could have done alone.
Thinking flexibly allows you to make connections that you might not be able to make otherwise. It empowers you to see how two divergent thoughts or pieces of information might fit together to find a new path, a revolutionary product, or the earth-moving idea that will forever change the world. Several people who were able to think flexibly, the late Sam Walton (Wal Mart), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Meg Whitman (e-Bay) and the late Steve Jobs (Apple) come to mind when thinking about people who recognized what existed and then about things differently.