Is it Better to be Flexible or Resilient?

“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” Japanese proverb

Considering everything that we have been through in the last year, if you had to choose, in hindsight would you say it’s better to be flexible or resilient?

Depending on your personal circumstances, you might be tempted to say “resilient” believing that its better to be able to cope mentally and emotionally in a time of crisis and then return to your “pre-crisis” state when things settle down.

But in these challenging times is the ability to be resilient enough in and of itself?

Let’s think about this for a minute.

On the one hand, being rigid enough to weather a storm and self-disciplined enough to revert to a “pre-crisis” state might be a good thing if you have already achieved a mental, emotional, and physical state of perfection in life.

But what if you haven’t?

Is it really a good idea to keep returning to the same unwavering (albeit flawed) state of mind every time that you encounter a challenge in life?

Perhaps, if it is your desire to emulate the bamboo which does bend temporarily when forced but snaps back into place as quickly as possible and remains perpetually rooted to a single spot.

But is that the true purpose of your human life?

In short, are humans here simply to experience the trials and consequences of living a life without change? Or do we have the opportunity to bend as circumstances necessitate? Are we able to make a progressive journey towards harmony and enlightenment in which we continuously grow by leveraging the lessons of our previous experiences?

Admittedly, as idyllic as this would be, this idealised notion may seem a bit too far-fetched for many people.

So what’s the answer?

Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in between.

Perhaps the biggest lesson of the last year is that we need to employ both flexibility and resilience in order to navigate the next phase of our human journey.

As the global pandemic continues to show us, the world will never be quite the same again making it less and less likely that we can simply return to a “pre-crisis” state without making any alterations to our life or our outlook.

But ironically, it is our unwavering positive attributes of caring and co-operation and patience that are enabling us to be flexible and to adapt to changing circumstances on the fly. And seeing the positive results of our collective co-operation and flexibility we are working together in new ways for the benefit of everyone.

Is being flexible challenging and frustrating and sometimes even scary?

Yes, sometimes it is.

But the ironic truth is, the more that you are able to bend, the stronger you will become and the stronger that you become, the more you will be able to bend.




Chief Operating Officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd - a journalist, podcaster and thought leader focusing on life transition & change management.

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Robin Trimingham

Robin Trimingham

Chief Operating Officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd - a journalist, podcaster and thought leader focusing on life transition & change management.

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