This exercise is part of a series originally shared on Gather the Courage, guided journaling for creative leaders to reflect, be encouraged, and make courageous decisions.

An exercise in flexibility and making plans when so many circumstances are beyond your control.


Let’s start by settling in. Make sure you’re sitting in a comfortable position for writing, and that you have your notebook and pen handy. Take a moment to breathe as you find something to appreciate right now. Do you see something beautiful? Do you feel a sense of energy or calm? What is it that is unique about this moment?

If you can’t think of anything, it’s okay. It’s really good that you’re here, and I appreciate you doing this exercise with me, no matter what else is going on.

Now that you’ve settled in, let’s set our purpose for this time. As I’m recording this, our world is changing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We aren’t quite sure how it will unfold, but we know that nothing is the same as it was a month ago, or even last week.

As a leader, this is affecting you in a unique way. You may have a vision you’ve been working toward seem suddenly irrelevant. You may be wondering if your plans are still workable. Because of this, today, my intention is to walk you through an exercise in flexibility. It can be challenging to hold your plans loosely when circumstances change that are beyond your control. We are going to explore your relationship with your existing vision and plans and see where you might allow for more flexible thinking.

Now it’s time to write. What is one challenge or difficulty you’ve been thinking about lately? Spend a few minutes free-writing about problems you’ve been trying to solve, and choose one to focus on. Give yourself permission to free-write whatever comes to mind. I’ll check back in in a few minutes.


How’s it going? If you need more time, feel free to press pause and continue writing. Whenever you’re ready, think about one challenge or problem you’ve been considering. You can do this exercise again later if you have more than one you’re trying to figure out, but for now, just focus on one.

One gift of practicing flexibility is realizing that even though your problems are certainly a challenge for you, they are not only a challenge. It is easy to acknowledge the challenge and try to overcome it, but there is also a seed of goodness inside of each and every situation we face. What is the seed of goodness in this particular problem? Take a few minutes to consider what that seed of goodness could be. I’ll be back in a few minutes to check in.


Were you able to find the seed of goodness yet? If not, that’s okay. One seed of goodness this challenge might have for you is that it gives you the opportunity to practice flexibility.

Now as you think about both the challenge and its seed of goodness, what does your gut say to do with this challenge?

Maybe there is an action you know you need to take, or maybe there is nothing you can do right now, and you need to let it sit and move on to something else. Maybe you need to learn more, or talk to someone.

I’ve found it easiest to listen to my gut when I begin my writing with the phrase “The truth is...” You might try it. What does your gut say to do with this challenge? Start by writing “The truth is...” and then keep writing whatever comes to mind. I’ll be back in a few minutes.


That question may have been challenging, or it may have opened you up to a new possibility you hadn’t considered. Whatever the outcome, don’t worry about needing to have all the answers right now. You can do this exercise whenever you need more clarity around the options available to you.

Practicing flexibility helps us find solutions to challenges we may have never considered. Or we may see that they are not challenges after all, and we can either embrace them or let them go.

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