“If you want to be king of the forest, you can’t be too proud to bend with the wind,” origin unknown. I attended a memorial for the CEO of the company for my side gig and one of the speakers shared this quote. It’s a timely reminder about the need to flex with life. Unpredictable things happen every day and, as we’ve been discussing this week, all we have control over is our mindset. The quote above can be applied to anything—and the goal doesn’t necessarily have to be becoming king or any other type of title. Rather if we are going to achieve a goal, if we want to attain a certain mark, a certain level of comfort, a certain milestone, we have to demonstrate flexibility. Aside from impatience, this is probably one of my weakest points.
The point of the quote hit home when put into context of a literal forest. The speaker shared that Oaks, while they grow tall, large, strong, and domineering, they don’t tend to fair well after time in the storms because they don’t move. Birches on the other hand flex in the wind so they tend to come through the storms just fine. While perhaps cliché and a bit obvious, tell me that isn’t the absolute perfect analogy for life. It’s a practical application of the quote and, yet again, goes along with mindset. I say this with no malice but rather with complete understanding: this is why I am how I am. I was raised by a generation a decade older than my peers. Between my parents and the time I did have with my siblings, I was exposed to a mindset that if you work hard and do what you’re told, you get a certain result. Enter extreme rigidity and expectation on my part. I would do exactly what I was told to get what I want for my entire life. I never learned the adaptation part, or the flexibility.
I have goals in my life, and no, they don’t necessarily involve becoming king of anything. But the concept still applies. If I want to achieve those goals, I need to learn to flex on the way, not the outcome. Truth be told, I don’t know where I got the habit that if something isn’t working I give up immediately. I never learned the pivot. I’m good at moving onto the next thing while holding the grudge that something didn’t work…not the best mindset, I know, but it kept me moving. It gave the illusion that I was still productive or able to achieve something. I never learned to stick to something until it materialized. I think that is why certain facets of manifestation challenge me. That’s a side note—but a good point of reference. Manifestation is about letting go of the way in favor of the best outcome. I misinterpreted that to mean if it doesn’t go my way it isn’t meant to be. That’s like spending your life aiming at a dart board blindfolded—you start searching for a target you can’t even see.
Often reminders like this come during a time when we need to demonstrate more flexibility. I’d be lying if I said it weren’t true for me in this moment. Changing mindset, learning what is actually holding you back, finding what your real beliefs are turns things upside down a bit. I mean, I know the beliefs I express and profess and that truly move me—I share them with you. Yet, even with all the progress I’ve made, I find that I still struggle to have those beliefs FOR myself. Perhaps this is key. Perhaps all that is needed is a shift in mindset from a defeated attitude to a flexible attitude. There are multiple ways to achieve anything, none of them better than the other. It’s the mountain again—we are all heading to the top. We can either spend our time running around the base yelling at people about what they’re doing, or we can simply begin our own ascent. I choose the climb.