When we think of flexibility we often think of the ways our body can stretch and bend. The less thought of aspect of flexibility revolves around our minds, our way of thinking. This concept was touched on in many of the readings this past week even though it wasn't always obvious.
The first time I recognized this cool concept of having a flexible mind wasn't until the last reading, but following that I went back and tried to find it in the others. The final reading, "Divergence," discussed the conventional way all public speeches are written. This hit me because I spent my entire senior year writing speech after speech as a New York state officer for the Future Farmers of America. Whether it was for a state wide convention, annual meeting, banquet, or classroom setting every speech I wrote typically followed the same format. Open with my main concept, tie it in to a personal experience or real life example, and finish by noting the connections and leaving the audience with a strong conclusion. These speeches worked really well for me, the audience always responded positively and I got comments all year long. So when I read this article and the author suggested that these conventions restricted public speeches and made them less open to creativity, I questioned that. Just because the conventions of a public speech aren't flexible, doesn't necessarily mean the message won't be heard or even received well. Take, for example, Angelina Jolie's 2009 speech on World Refugees Day. This speech is ranked up with various presidential inauguration speeches, famous commencement speeches, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Jolie begins by discussing how refugees are just like everybody else with jobs and families, except they have had their homes ripped away. She then tells a personal story of one refugee who has become her good friend, and concludes by wrapping it all up (Marie Clare, 2015). Jolie's speech was received with a standing ovation. At the time the issue wasn't as well known, but Jolie managed to raise worldwide awareness and support within eight minutes. With a typical speech layout. Conventional speeches don't restrict flexibility, they've just been researched and constructed well enough to know what works. People stick to this layout because it's successful, not because they don't know how to think creatively. Anybody can give a conventional speech, but there's more to a successful speech than just the layout. More areas where creativity and flexibility can be included.
After going through the readings again I found flexibility in "Planning and Replanning." A topic that was discussed was some people's unwillingness to research further and write more, their inability to push themselves creatively. Flexibility comes in here because you have to be able to bend and curve with the way research intrigues you. You have to be willing to throw things away and take punches. The reading discussed Ta-Nehisi Coates and his writings about Barack Obama. First he criticized Obama for not mentioning race in a very race related current event, however shortly after he rethought his opinion and praised Obama for speaking "as an African American for African Americans." In Coates's "My President Was Black," his tone is extremely different from his previous encounter on Obama's handling of race. He praised Obama; talking about his lavish parties with a family feel, his way of bringing the country together, and even saying the Obamas "represented the best of the black people." (The Atlantic, 2017). Coates had an opinion, but after meeting with Obama and interviewing him he was willing to change. He didn't go into the meeting determined to hate Obama, he went in with an open mind and willingness to be flexible in what the former president had to say. Coates represents an aspect crucial to all writing: flexibility and the mindset of rethinking. I've failed at that before as I'm sure we all have. Stubbornness or unwillingness to change gets in our way creatively. We just need to recognize that and be okay with not being right all the time.
"25 Iconic Speeches You'll Want To Watch On Repeat." Marie Claire. N.p., 28 Sept. 2015. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. "My President Was Black." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.