Master marketer Seth Godin recently talked about Aravind Eye Care System, a revolutionary movement helping prevent blindness throughout India. Specifically, Godin talked about how Aravind has successfully improved millions of lives while other attempts have failed.
The difference between success and failure, he argued, is flexibility. It is true for your business, too.
Focus on the outcome, not the road
Aravind has used unique methods to help rural communities, from smarter delegation/triage systems to innovative funding routes. The surprise here is how Aravind is so willing to try new ideas rather than stick to safe, albeit stagnant methods.
On his Akimbo podcast, Godin put the mission of Aravind founder Dr. G. Venkataswamy very succinctly:
"We commit to the change we wish to seek and we commit to the people we seek to change. Those are anchors for us. The tactics? The tactics don't matter so much. The tactics will shift as time shifts."
It means you adapt to new strategies without being attached to a particular route or dogma. It means being flexible as long as it gives you the desired outcomes. It means not being wedded to a set approach.
It means constantly learning and adapting.
Why flexibility matters more than skill
Even the most visionary entrepreneurs cannot predict what will happen next. In America, we've been expecting the tech bubble to burst, the real estate market to cool and the unemployment rate to rise for years - and making decisions based on those premises. The climate still hasn't shifted. Someone following a fixed plan, assuming things will happen on a set timeline, likely would fail.
Being flexible, though, means you can adapt to any new climate, and true flexibility doesn't just mean quickly assessing the shifted environment, but also moving quick enough so you can take full advantage of the new opportunities. It's not just adapting, but embracing.
Legendary surfer Laird Hamilton considers adaptability a superpower, and I shared my take on his wisdom:
Even the most gifted surfer in the world cannot make killer waves happen, nor even accurately predict when they will happen. To paraphrase Hamilton in the interview, the best thing he can do is show up - and show up well.
So you show up for who you serve, consistently, with the best equipment you've got at the moment. It is a simple, strong key to a successful business.