Stay agile to succeed in fast changing situations

Stay agile to succeed in fast-changing situations

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is to move quickly and lightly; nimbleness. Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

What is the most exciting part of watching a football match? To me, it is the goal keeper diving almost from one corner of the goal post to the other to get control of the ball.

That is the most thrilling or rather the magical part of the match. Goal keepers need exceptional agility to pounce and hold the ball to enable their team to win and that’s what they are remarkably famous for.

Agility is the ability to change direction and speed nearly instantly. And this quality of the goal keeper holds the chance for the team to either win or lose. Those who are nimble will win the race. Success in today’s day and age requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react and reinvent (Bill Gates).

What’s this whole hullabaloo about agility, you may wonder? A few years ago, my daughter was performing a song on stage in front of an audience of over 3,000 school children. She was singing a patriotic song, which she learnt just a few days before her performance.

While on stage, she interchanged the lyrics of stanza 2 with that of stanza 3. And I almost knew instantly that realising her mistake, she would stop midway and leave the stage.

But to my pleasant surprise, she looked towards me, winked at me, smiled and continued singing— of course to thunderous applause by the audience.

That was a very unlikely move from my very shy child and later in our conversation she told me how she decided to respond to the change rather than just following the script. She made these four bold statements, which still ring in my ears:

  1. Going with the changed flow was more important than sticking to the original path (lyrics here).
  2. The quality of achievement is more important than the quantity of achievement (the sense of being able to sing the song in whole was more important than what others would think of the mistake).
  3. Simplicity over complexity (this was very interesting: she said “I bet not more than 10 per cent of the audience realised the mixup, the others might have just thought this is the right flow, so I did not bother to stop.”
  4. Reacting to change positively is more important than fretting over the change itself. This incident was an eye- opener to me in many ways. Not that it was a big deal or that I did not realise the importance of being agile any earlier.

But, here’s my take on how most of our upbringing is: We are told right from our childhood days that if you study well, you get good grades, and when you get good grades, you get a good job, and when you get a good job (preferably that of a lawyer or banker or a few other chosen ones), you can get yourself a good house among others, leading to a happy life.

Many young men and women are fixated on the idea of life and the sequence of events and activities. They use this fixated idea to educate themselves, perform in a job environment or apply in business environment and life in general—even to the extent that they battle it out internally all the time between what they want to do against what they do. To them, I quote what Buddha famously said, “Be selective with your battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right.”

When change is the only constant thing, you can almost never wait for the perfect time, sometimes you must dare to jump. And when things go wrong, you cannot run away from yourselves because you are always right behind you.

And that is why, agility is the most important quality that we need to cultivate in our lives for us to succeed at work and life. Here are a few tips to cultivate the agility in thinking and in action:

1. Your involvement in your life is vital:

It is important for you to be receptive to ideas and advice from others. But do not allow others to overly influence you. Know what and where to filter.

2. Priorities are variables, while time is fixed:

Everyone of us, whether busy or idle, strong or weak, employed or unemployed have 24 hours in a day. Nothing changes that. What changes is what we manage to get done in those 24 hours.

3. Design small, incremental and iterative goals:

Don’t ever be afraid to dream too big. Nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. You can achieve it if you design your long term goals and dreams into set daily, monthly and quarterly goals.

4. A time tested model to a happy life is living the 80/20 way.

Work in such a way that 80 per cent of your outcomes come from 20 per cent of your inputs. A few degrees here and there do not matter, it is important for you to understand that there are certain activities you do (20 per cent of your time) that accounts for most (80 per cent) of your happiness. Choose wisely.

5. Keep validating:

Keep your eyes and ears open. Keep validating and change the course when time is right.

Mr Sri Bharatam is the Founder and Chief Mentor of Kuza Biashara Limited, a capacity building organisation coaching youth and SME owners across Africa.

He can be reached @Sbharatam or

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