The Zen of Being Flexible

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flexible |ˈfleksəbəl|    adjective

capable of bending easily without breaking 

I’m kind of a crazy person when it comes to getting things done. I really like to accomplish objectives and feel like I’m moving forward, and my natural tendency is to get all weird and thrown off when things don’t move along as I want them to. I like to plan my work and work my plan.

But I’ve learned to be more Zen when things go wrong.

You’re a business owner, right? You’ve got to be a bit obsessed, like I am. You have a lot on your plate. Many projects and people needing your time. Tons of great ideas simmering over to the side that you can’t get to.

It would be so cool if things always went as planned

How terrific it would be if you could just line them all up and work your way through them – and they’d be done just the way you planned. Going fast if you want to or taking your time to savor the parts you like, and always knowing the movement is forward and there would be no backtracking or sidestepping needed.

So you could move on and even have time to get to your wonderful new ideas. Or take a day off.

But it doesn’t happen that way.

A project gets canceled or someone gets sick or the money isn’t there. The software has a glitch or the internet goes down or something slips through the cracks – and it’s MAJOR.

So you’re always fighting that angst of “Why didn’t that work out? Why did that have to happen now? Now I need a Plan B. I don’t have a Plan B! I feel like I’m going around in circles. I want it to go faster! Why isn’t it working for me?”

And we get kinda locked up and rigid.

It helps to poke your head up and look around you. Because . . .

Everything is relative

I once had a really rigid coach who would never let anyone reschedule a session. It was part of her accountability rule – the sessions were set up way in advance, and it was our responsibility to make sure that’s when they happened, come hell or high water.

Because of this rule, I was forced to have a phone session with her in the parking lot of the hospital while my first grandchild was being born.

I asked her to reschedule. My mind really wasn’t on the business we were discussing, but she was very curt with me for even suggesting that she change her silly old rule. I muddled thru the first few minutes and then just forfeited the session. It felt so good to hang up and run back into the waiting room and my baby sleeper knitting – I hadn’t finished the soft blue onesie yet! I didn’t want to miss a minute of the happy mindless vigil.

Sometimes, in my coaching business, things don’t go the way I want them to – for me, or for my clients — and I’m reminded of my rigid coach. I’m so happy I coached with her because I learned an awful lot. I learned many good things to move my business forward. And I learned by example that there are some really wrong ways to work with people, for everyone involved.

You’re an artist, not a grinder

So I try to be more flexible than my born-with tendencies would allow. I try to remember that things come up.

And it’s okay.

If I’ve done a good job of attracting and choosing the perfect clients for me (and yes!, I have), then I can be flexible.

I was reminded of this very recently by a favorite client, who told me that a former coach of hers once told her, “Remember Bernadette, you’re an artist, not a grinder!”

I love this!

And I believe that all entrepreneurs are artists – we’re not grinders. So with Bernadette’s permission, I’m going to bestow her mantra on you, too.

You’re an artist, not a grinder. And you can be flexible.

Plan B and options

Sometimes, when we’ve got plans, we just want them to go how we want them to go, and we don’t want to even think about a Plan B. In fact, there are lots of coaches and consultants and gurus who will tell you not to even think about a Plan B, because if you have a Plan B, it gives you an excuse to not work as hard  to make Plan A successful.

Burn the ships behind you and all that.

I agree that maybe a Plan B isn’t exactly what you should have, because it does kind of sound like an excuse for Plan A gone bad. But maybe we carry it a bit too far.

How about having some options instead?

There’s something very Zen about having options. People like options. They’re comfy. They make a decision not “yes or no” but “which?” Options take the pressure off. They allow us to be flexible.

If this doesn’t work, then that will.

I don’t want that one, but I do want this one.

If that person can’t do it, then this person can.

If that plan doesn’t fit you, maybe this one will.

You expect options when you buy groceries or a car – why wouldn’t you allow them for yourself and your business?

You can be Zen, too

So things don’t always work out the way you plan. Sometimes other things get in the way. But that doesn’t mean you have to get all weird and let it throw you off, like I used to, or turn rigid to try to hold them together.

Because everything is relative.

And you’re an artist, not a grinder!

And you can have options.

I believe in you!


I have flexible options for you, too. One of my newest and most flexible options is e-coaching.

Here’s what my client Bernadette had to say (among other things!) when I told her the story about my rigid coach — and she gave me the idea for this blog post:

“Thank you so very much, Marcia. You get the strongest kudos from me. If you’d like an additional testimonial about this very nature of being reasonable and flexible when a crisis comes up, I’d be glad to write it. I’m not ‘condoning’ such changes, but just when the times make it necessary. Maybe you’d want to write a blog post about your session in the parking lot — and make the point of how you learned so much about not wanting to be that kind of coach. It really resonates when we are trying our very best and it doesn’t always fit in with the rest of the world’s rules or deadlines!”

— Bernadette Hunter, MS, LPC,, Denver, CO

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