Book Review | FlexAbility by Karen Morley
High achievers set high standards for themselves and tend to be particularly prone to overwork. Covid has done little to decrease the pressures that leaders feel to do more. Rather than passing all responsibility on to the organisation, the author offers the leader ways to address the challenges by making changes in your own life.
The introduction presents a thought-provoking distinction between flexibility and flexAbility. Flexibility is used to depict the policies of the organisation that define where and when you work. It is “how the system operates, organisations grant workers certain freedoms in relation to their work location and working hours”.
On the other hand, flexAbility embodies why and how you work. It is “how you operate in this demanding system. It’s the freedom you grant yourself to avoid the sacrifices of overwork and live a rich, purpose-filled life, doing meaningful work while prioritising your wellbeing”.
The book is structured into three parts:
- Know what matters focuses on addressing stress and burnout, finding your purpose and changing how you think
- Do what matters helps you revamp work, rediscovering love for what you do and making good habits stick
- Influence what matters equips you to increase your impact.
Each part is made up of three chapters, and each section presents the reader with an opportunity to reflect and make an individual self-assessment. There are plenty of tools and tehniques to explore options for modifying actions, thoughts and behaviours.
I particularly love the highlighted “insights” sections in each chapter, containing interesting facts and thoughts about the topic. The chapters all end with a kind of challenge, a chance to reset, steps you can take to move you forward.
On her website, the author Dr Karen Morley is described as “a registered psychologist and brings her fascination with emerging neuroscience and social psychology research to give leaders insight into what really works”.
Her deep interest is unmistakable in the way she combines her extensive knowledge of the psychology behind what we do, together with the expertise of others to create a book that is jam packed with models, quotes and information.
Karen also makes use of stories about people struggling with particular issues on their leadership journey. Most people would relate to one or more of these engaging anecdotes. As a self-confessed high-achiever, I’m prone to beat myself up and I found it encouraging to know that others grapple with similar things to what I do.
With an enormous wealth of content, FlexAbility is likely to provide any reader with at least one gem, a nugget that could be applied to your life, whether personal or work. A high achieving leader struggling with balancing organisational demands against their own desire to achieve in all areas of their life will find this book full of helpful anecdotes to make them realise they’re not alone in their struggles.
The more academically inclined will love the numerous references to research combined with the theoretical models, providing evidence to support the actions and recommendations.
Review by Glenda Mitchell
Speaker, writer, facilitator and leadership coach