Flexibility: Lessons from the NFL by Shawn Conrad, CAE

The National Football League is now in the 13th week of a very grueling 16-week schedule. These games and athletes are at times poetry in motion, and at other times, it’s a game that is vicious and hard-hitting. It’s amazing that any players make it through the season with all of their limbs and senses intact.

I recently listened to a post-game interview with a player who was asked how he was able to make it through so many seasons without any serious injuries. He mentioned that the team’s trainer had emphasized stretching their muscles and joints every day, sometimes multiple times a day, to stay limber and agile. What the trainer was really preaching was for the athlete to stay flexible.

What a great message for us non-NFL players as well. While we aren’t so much concerned with being hit by a 260-lb. middle linebacker, we are constantly having to deal with a rush of constant change in our professional and personal lives. Think about all of the things that are changing around us: technology, new duties and responsibilities, co-workers coming and going, our parents and siblings getting older, kids learning to drive and then soon off to college, and more.   iStock_000000867534_Large

Many things change over time and most of the time, you can’t do anything about it. Things can change because they weren’t working or were out of date—maybe you found something that just worked better.  Having to deal with change requires a degree of flexibility as you figure out how to approach shifting technology or working in a new environment or figuring out children who no longer seek your input.

Adapting to change isn’t easy and it takes a flexible mindset. You have to stay open to new possibilities and opportunities. Those around you who successfully tackle change in their lives are often seen as more open-minded and adaptable, while those who resist change seem as though they are standing between the end zone and a running back who does the 40-yard dash in under five seconds.

We’ve all heard that change is inevitable. The way you tackle it will affect how happy and productive you are.

We will soon be looking at the beginning of 2016—a new year that will bring with it many changes and things that are different than what they once were. Take a moment, take a few deep breaths, and think how this change will affect you. Then, focus on how you can adapt to this new reality.  And don’t forget to stretch.