Flexibility is adapting to changing circumstances and finding creative solutions when unexpected or unfamiliar situations arise. It comes from a combination of the Latin adjective flexibilis, meaning “able to bend.” The word “adaptability” refers most broadly to the ability of an organism or its environment changes in response. However, people also use it as a synonym for “flexibility,” just as they sometimes use “advancement” as a synonym for “growth.
According to Alejandro Betancourt, these two terms are not interchangeable. Although they can be used interchangeably, “adaptability” is more than the ability to adapt to changes in the environment or one’s behavior. It implies the ability to find new solutions for old problems and the ability to imagine previously unthinkable alternatives. Betancourt argues that adaptive behavior is based on flexibility and creativity, creating a dynamic “adaptive system.” In the past, most psychologists considered flexibility a component of intelligence. However, Betancourt argues that it is more than a higher mental function. It is a skill with cognitive and behavioral components that can be developed and improved.
One might expect that extremely intelligent and highly skilled people tend to be very flexible, but this is not necessarily the case. When it comes to developing flexibility, training plays a key role. Alejandro Betancourt urges us to think of flexibility as a skill that can be learned and improved through training, just as we learn and improve our ability to play a musical instrument, drive a car, or develop new habits.
Flexibility is an essential quality for many highly successful people. They excel at finding creative solutions when the rules change, presenting old problems in new ways, and imagining previously unimaginable alternatives. Alejandro Betancourt argues that their creativity and innovation would be stifled without these skills. For example, the ability to imagine new possibilities is essential because when old circumstances are no longer possible, it is important to find creative ways of staying relevant and effective. Alejandro Betancourt insists that adaptability is not just a skill but also a characteristic of people’s mindset to approach their daily lives.
The flexibility mindset is characterized by three core processes: selective attention, cognitive reinvention, and cognitive restructuring. Selective attention involves a person’s ability to concentrate on relevant information while filtering out irrelevant information. One way to improve selective attention is through regular training sessions in which one learns new skills or practices old ones.