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On Being Flexible

On Being Flexible

It is said that Emperor Babur was obsessed with conquering the rich kingdom of Samarkand. He was defeated, lost what he had and was forced to retreat to the mountains, living the life of a nomad along with a few loyal men. One night he was disturbed by a huge commotion outside his tent. A soldier told him that a wolf had been coming for three nights to the camp to look for a meal. On the first night, it went into the enclosure for the horses and was promptly kicked out. The next night, it went into the sheep’s enclosure, but ran away when the sheep started bleating loudly. The night of the commotion, the wolf entered the chicken coop and got away with a chicken.

When Babur reflected on this he realized that the wolf was smarter that he was. The wolf, he said, was not obsessed with a single objective. When he was unsuccessful he moved to another objective, while Babur himself was constantly obsessed with Samarkand. That is when Babur began look elsewhere to fulfill his desire to be a powerful king. He looked to India and established the Mughal dynasty. 

On Being Flexible

I’m no fan of Babur’s however, when I read this story recently it struck a chord. It made be begin to think of how obsessive we can be about what we want in life. Please don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very important to have dreams and goals. However, I also believe that we need to be flexible enough to redefine our goals based on circumstances and situations that life brings our way. We have to learn to adapt to change.

I think of Sanam who I interviewed last year (read here). Her terrible accident and its consequences meant that she had to give up her dream of being a vet. But she loved animals. So now she runs a very successful pet sitting business.

I have tried to be flexible in my own life too and am happy to report that life has a wonderful way of surprising us when we let go and enjoy the ride.

We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~ Joseph Campbell

I think another lesson that I would take from the wolf would be to be open to making errors and constantly learning from them. I could write a book about the errors I’ve made in life. Some of them I kept repeating until I got the lesson from them. I learned and have stopped making the same errors. Now, I’m making new ones 😉

Do you believe it’s good to be flexible?

May you be inspired – every day!


Image Credit: Dreamstime


  1. jennsonthego jennsonthego June 5, 2012

    I think the key is–to keep learning–in everything we do–it is important to learn something from it. That said–sometimes we have to live one dream or maybe two before we can see the big dream become reality. It is something I’m witnessing as we speak 🙂  Cheers, Jenn.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 13, 2012

       @jennsonthego You’re absolutely right – learning is the key! Good luck with all your dreams, Jenn.

  2. Shail Shail June 5, 2012

    Beautiful post. Personally I am the giving up kind (that’s bad too). I don’t obsess over anything (thankfully). 🙂

  3. Rachna Rachna June 5, 2012

    Corinne, My first time here! I enjoyed reading this post, simple and meaningful. You are absolutely right! I have changed tracks myself so many times in my life. I have personally not followed a set path though flexibility was never a virtue with me :). You have aptly put that we need to refocus and redesign our goals; happiness can come to us via different paths.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 13, 2012

      Thank you for stopping by, Rachna. I’m glad that this post resonated with you. 

  4. floridancing floridancing June 4, 2012

    Corinne, I believe that the older we get the less flexible we can become with life, trying to control things that might seem scary or feeling in general that we paid our dues and just want a smooth path. I have had to really stretch myself in this last year, challenging myself to walk into the unknown and having to change directions at the last minute. If my outside body matched my inside body when it comes to being flexible, I’d look as fit as a yoga instructor. If it were only so!

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 13, 2012

       @floridancing I know what you mean – letting go of old ways of doing things is always hard. I’m glad that you’ve challenged yourself and in doing so have unconsciously challenged many of us. About the outside matching the inside, too bad it doesn’t work that way, isn’t it? 😉

  5. AdrienneSmith AdrienneSmith June 3, 2012

    Ah, the lessons we have to learn along the way right Corinne!  I’ve definitely had to be flexible with the way things have gone in my life.  Like you, I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  Some I definitely learned from while others just took me a lot longer.
    I think this also has a lot to do with change.  Whether we like it or not it’s really a necessity if we want a better life.  Nothing ever stays the same no matter how hard we’ve love for it to.  
    I enjoyed this story and it really just puts things into perspective for a lot of people.  Me included.
    Enjoy your week Corinne!~Adrienne 

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 13, 2012

       @AdrienneSmith Sorry it took me so long to respond, I’ve been away and then busy trying to catch up on a challenge I’ve undertaken. I look up to people like you for inspiration, Adrienne – your willingness to learn and take on new ideas makes me want to do the same. Thank you.

  6. Suzy Suzy June 3, 2012

    Corinne, this is by far the best post I have ever read. 
    What an awesome quote from Joseph Campbell – I’ll be tweeting and sharing today.
    Actually I think Sanam’s dream did come true. A vet is someone who cares for animals and Sanam does the same through her pet sitting business. She’s a “vet” of the soul, if you know what I mean.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 3, 2012

      That’s a huge compliment, Suzy. Thank you for sharing too. Yes, her dream did come true – but only when she allowed it to, by looking past her grief. 

  7. femmefrugality femmefrugality June 3, 2012

    Always good to be flexible!  I had a day that REQUIRED it today.  My plans must have changed a bajillion times, but I tried to just roll with it.  It’s a habit I’m learning, but it really does bring stress levels way down!

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 3, 2012

      Sorry you had a bad day femmefrugality . But then our day is as bad as we allow it to be. Glad you handled  yours well.  

  8. DangerousLinda DangerousLinda June 2, 2012

    I agree it’s important to set goals and also be flexible concerning outcomes.  That’s why I aim at a clear target but then pray for ‘this or something better’.  Thank you for this lovely post. 

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 3, 2012

       @DangerousLinda Aiming at a clear target and praying for it or something better sounds exactly like what I do, Linda. ♥

  9. jonesbabie jonesbabie June 2, 2012

    I loved this post Corinne, it really resonated with me.  I always thought of myself as flexible, but am revisiting how I see and think of my ability to be less rigid or set in mind.  Your post tied it all together very cohesively for me.  Thank you.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 3, 2012

       @jonesbabie I’m glad this resonated with you, Cathy. I think we all have to constantly review how open we are to opportunities and change. Thanks for coming by.

  10. xs2rahulz xs2rahulz June 2, 2012

    Very beutiful post dear , i can proudly say that yes i am flexible.
    U have made me think
    this is awesome

  11. galenpearl galenpearl June 2, 2012

    When I lived in Bangkok, I started a professional women’s group.  “Professional” was defined loosely and used only to distinguish the group from other groups that were organized for charitable or social purposes.  Our group had 150 members from 30 different countries.  One thing we learned is that those of us who were working were almost all working at something other than what we might have expected.  In order to succeed in our new environment, we had to drop our restricting labels and be flexible to consider jobs that we would not have thought of before.  Sort of a bloom where you’re planted approach!  Love the wolf story! 

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 3, 2012

       @galenpearl Thanks for sharing, Galen. I can imagine the kind of learning and unlearning that went on with 30 different cultures involved too. 

  12. nikky44 nikky44 June 2, 2012

    Very beautiful post Corinne. I can say that i am a very flexible person, but it’s because I have learned it in a very hard way. A war that lasts over 30 years kills your dreams whatever they are. we didn’t have the right to even think about having dreams. Our thinking was limited to the next hour, the following day. I think we learned it in a hard way, but it is a very useful lesson for life.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 2, 2012

       @nikky44 You have indeed learned the most difficult way of being flexible, Nikky and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I can imagine how conflict can devastate the dreams of a nation and its population, especially the young. Thank you for sharing. 

  13. privytrifles privytrifles June 2, 2012

    Yes it is. Learning is a never ending thing in life. Flexibility gives us the chance to look at all the possible options that are available to us. When I was a  teenager I dreamt of a different life for me than what I have today. But today when I look back I feel I have done decently for myself. Though I might not have been able to do many things I wanted to, by large I have fared well and succeeded is what I can say. Flexibility is the only reason that makes me think like this.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 2, 2012

      I’m glad that you are able to look back on your life with satisfaction, Privy. I think that’s the most important thing. 

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 2, 2012

       @Tweetsmom Rolling with the punches is a good philosophy too, Kathy. 

  14. Lynne Watts Lynne Watts June 2, 2012

    This is a great post and of course raises all kinds of questions.  One of the great questions to ask ourselves in many situations is, “When should I go and when should I stay?”  This relates to many different situations or circumstances;  job, relationships, etc.  Sometimes we stay too long when it would be to everyone’s advantage to leave.  Sometimes we give up too quickly, just as we are about to experience success.  How do you discern the right path to follow?  Here’s an additional question that I often ask myself in order to decide… “Which action is consistent with my life mission, with the story I want to tell?”  Thanks for a very insightful post!

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 2, 2012

       @Lynne Watts  Yes, it’s true we need to work out when to change track and when to stay the course. It takes a lot of discernment. The question you ask is very important. I’m copying it down. You added so much with your comment. Thank you.

  15. Janaki Nagaraj Janaki Nagaraj June 2, 2012

    Nice one Corinne…make me think…

  16. RituLalit RituLalit June 2, 2012

    Guilty as charged.  I tend to obsess about what I want, and often forget to notice what I have already achieved or have in my grasp.  Good lesson Corinne

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 2, 2012

       That’s a point I left out,  @RituLalit  – looking back in gratitude. Thanks for adding that.

  17. MelissaTandoc MelissaTandoc June 2, 2012

    Oooo I like that story and would be telling Belle about it when she comes back 🙂
    Life does present us with myriads of possibilities. I remember that I was so focused on what I wanted to be that I started neglecting my other desires. It took me years to understand what God wishes me to be.
    I guess we were made to be flexible but just how far we could flex depends on us 🙂 Circumstances will present themselves and test us…
    Yes, I believe that it’s good 🙂

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 2, 2012

       @MelissaTandoc I would love to hear Belle’s response to this story. Yes, aren’t we blessed that there’s more than one way of doing things and life has so much to offer if we’d only be open to it. 

  18. marthaorlando marthaorlando June 2, 2012

    Oh, it’s absolute crucial to be flexible in life and to learn to go with the flow.  I love the Joseph Campbell quote; when we do all the planning and scheming for what we think we need in life, we miss our true purpose in living.  Personally, I know I need to be open to God’s call and listen for His direction.
    Inspiring post, Corinne!

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 2, 2012

       @marthaorlando That quote of Joseph Campbell’s is one of my favorites and I had to get it in even though my in-house editor objects to me using quotes!  Life can be so much more exciting when it’s not just about achieving goals!

  19. Parth Parth June 2, 2012

    Too true Corinne – flexibility and adaptability is the root of all growth.  And if you’re not making mistakes – then you’re probably not learning – which means that you’re not growing – cool huh?  Just tells me that it’s ok to make mistakes.  My mentor always says “you’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting” – so much truth to that.  Love your post.  Thanks.

    • CorinneRodrigues CorinneRodrigues June 2, 2012

      It is so okay to make mistakes, Parth. Learning from them is key too. I’ll take green and growing over ripe and rotting any day!  Thanks for sharing. 

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