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How Flexibility Can Get You Out Of A Rut
In our bid for security, we often stick to a path that has long since outlived its usefulness to us. Although we are uncomfortable with our situation, we prefer it to the fear of the unknown. The following story shows why flexibility is an important success principle.
A young chemist who worked in a small mining company, took up a better paying job in New York, hoping to move up to doing pure research. Neither his wife nor his boss approved of his decision. His wife thought that city life would be a rude contrast to the peace of their native mountains and the abundant trout streams. His boss, the President of the mining company, also had his doubts and invited the young man to take his job back if he returned within six months. For the young chemist, the taste of the Big Apple turned sour after only a few months. The glamour of the city faded and his job conditions changed considerably. The job changes occurred when the senior executive who had hired him was stripped of power and transferred to another division of the company. With him went a whole realm of possibilities that would have gradually opened up for the young chemist. Although the potential opportunities of the job had changed overnight, the young chemist, a proud man, decided to stick it out rather than face the humiliation of going back home and admitting that he had made a mistake. In addition, the young chemist had invested a considerable amount into his new job. He had invested money to move his family, buy and furnish a suburban home, and in numerous incidental expenses. He had invested time in making the move. And he had invested effort in learning new skills, attending company-sponsored seminars and night classes to supplement his education. Six months passed, then a year passed, then several years. As the years passed, the chemist, now not as young, became invested in the company's bonus plans that rewarded long service. After many years, the chemist found that he was simply marking time toward retirement. His ideal job in pure research was now no more than a distant pipe dream. He worked in the dull area of purchasing and quality control. The young chemist slipped into inertia. As the years went by he lost his courage to pursue a career of his choice. When his New York job fell apart, he let his pride get in the way of heading back home and starting over. He also had the choice of looking for another job in New York. He was also unwilling to cut his losses with the time, money, and effort he had invested in. While persistence and consistency are often touted as essential success principles, they can also work against other success principles: flexibility and sound judgment.