What if you, as the entrepreneur, considered your own development and your ability to change as the ultimate object? In other words, what if changing yourself is really the goal and you picked an entrepreneurial path strategically because you know it’s going to present exactly the challenges you need to change yourself in exactly the ways you most want to be changed.
If that’s what’s going on, then the fastest way to accomplish your goal of changing yourself is to adopt the attitude of maximum behavioral flexibility.
What is Behavioral Flexibility?
This is the ability to respond in the greatest variety of different ways to any situation, so you have free access to any response you choose. If you want to be really forcefully angry because you think that’s most effective, you’re free to do that. You don’t have a judgment that it’s wrong or you can’t, or it’s not “you.”
If someone really offends you and you want to respond lovingly and sweetly and openly, you have that ability. Behavioral flexibility gives you the maximum number of choices.
It really ties in well with what I said last week about arrested attention. Because if there’s a way that you can’t be, that’s a limitation. That’s a place that you’re not willing to go in order to create the outcome or the result that you want to create. Whether it be more love between another human being or making them feel inspired or empowered or anything else you might want them to feel.
Behavioral Flexibility and Leadership
When you take these limitations into the leadership paradigm realm, the place that you won’t go is exactly where the people will hide. The people that you most want to impact will hide. If you can’t be a certain way with someone because you’re limited by, “No, no, no, I could never do that. That’s not me,” then they’ll hide there and you won’t ever have any traction with them.
A really powerful leader is one who doesn’t need to use every way of being with every single person all the time, but knows the right tool for the right job. A leader like this is fundamentally willing to have the flexibility to move in between those tools at will, at the right time, in the right moment.
I’ll often say that the most flexible aspect of the system controls the system and that’s true from a physics standpoint, if you’ve got a circuit. It’s the switch that can go on or off that controls the whole rest of the system, which is just kind of sitting there to conduct the electricity.
Behavioral Flexibility Controls the Room
The same is true with human beings. Take a classroom full of kids. Everybody sits there at their chairs, behaving just like they’re supposed to because there’s a social contract saying this is how you’re supposed to be.
But say you have a kid in this classroom who is willing to be more behaviorally flexible than the rest. The moment that kid starts screaming and yelling, he’s got everyone’s attention. he’s being more flexible than anyone else in the system, and he’s controlling it. The teacher is up in arms, the kids are laughing and pointing. He’s got it. He’s definitely got the control and until the teacher is willing to exert more behavioral flexibility than the child, that child will continue to run circles around him or her.
That could be taken as a negative example, but what I’m saying is it applies in human systems as well as in physical systems.
And there are multiple ways of responding to this. As for this particular example, one response might be to emulate the kid and exaggerate his behavior to show him how he’s acting, but another response might be to do something completely different. The idea is that you are nimble, you’re agile.
There’s a whole type of programming called agile systems and because of the reality that when you’re really nimble and agile and can move in between, then you have that maximal choice and you can really control the systems that you’re in and create the outcomes you want to create.
Freedom in a Behavioral Flexibility Mindset
It all ties in so much into entrepreneurship because it ends up tying back to the idea of pure freedom, freedom of choice at every level. And I feel like so many of us get into entrepreneurship because we want that freedom. We desire that. I love the mindset shift of the goal is to change yourself and the best way to do that is by becoming an entrepreneur.
And if we could take it one level further, the best way to change yourself is by becoming the best entrepreneur you can be, which is the entrepreneur who is socially aligned with the whole of humanity. This is where what you’re doing for business is not externalizing harm to any other individual, group, nation, species, or race.
This is where you really take a hard, hard look at what it is that you’re doing and make sure that you are either a net neutral or a net positive to the entire global ecosystem. And whatever your entrepreneurial endeavor is, hopefully it is actually even improving humanity in some major way.
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