Lately, I seem to be doing a lot of work with our coaching clients around the subjects of flexibility and authenticity.

I have found that during times of change, many people cling to the reins of life and attempt to maintain control, as opposed to witnessing how life may be steering them in a more enhancing direction.

Flexibility is an essential tool to withstand change, and I have found that it brings with it a sense of humor and objectivity when we feel we are losing our footing.

At the same time, I have had thorough coaching dialogues with people regarding the subject of authenticity and the possibility that people can lead their lives staying true to what they need.

Commonly, when people uncover these needs, there is a tendency to lash out and make a firm stance, and although temporarily this is empowering, it may very well likely put off those around you. That is unless the company you keep needs to radically change, but that is content for another column.

I often share that flexibility and authenticity are not incompatible. It is possible to respond flexibly to changing circumstances and yet remain authentically ourselves.

So here is a coaching challenge: Can we be ourselves, standing tall and proud like the oak tree, and still respond appropriately in different situations, like the bamboo that sways in the wind so as to survive changing circumstances? Some people believe the two are incompatible, that personal authenticity involves reacting in the same way regardless of what is happening around us, and that flexibility means that one moves away from what is true for them.

However, the two can easily be reconciled.

My wife is from Los Angeles and she tells me that in earthquake regions, one way that tall buildings are built to survive major quakes is by including flexibility in the design. Some actually sway in the wind, and so have the "give" needed to survive sudden jolts. It is the very rigid buildings that are more likely to crumble. The secret is that beneath that flexibility the building must have a very deep and solid foundation.

When we have built a solid personal foundation, something which as a coach and a health practitioner I work intensively with, I have found that people can be driven by their values and healthfully withstand the demands of life.

With a foundation that is truly solid, adjusting to circumstances need not lead us away from our core values. Then, and only then, can we know just how far we are able to flex without coming off our foundation.

To use another analogy, just as a good ice skater can lean and twist in an extraordinary number of positions while still gliding, perfectly balanced, in the planned direction, so can we adjust our behavior to our circumstances without straying away from our own center of balance. We can adjust our responses to external events, confident that we will still be maintaining our balance and meeting our own standards.

Over and over I have found that honoring our deepest personal needs does not have to lead to rigidity and, in fact, quite the contrary; this process leads to a dynamic resiliency that when firmly put in place, creates a healthy flow of growth and sustainable fulfillment.

Dr. Jason Kolber is a licensed doctor of chiropractic and a certified life coach. He can be contacted at (480) 704-2787 or

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