#1107 Semper Gumby

Always Flexible, Optimus!

In our last +1, we fell down seven times and got up eight—wiser and stronger than we started.

Hooyah Commander Divine! (… and Angela Duckworth and Ryan Holiday and Joe De Sena!)

Today we’re going to wrap up our brief exploration of Mark Divine’s wisdom by checking out another (fun) facet of our sixth commitment to Resiliency.

Mark tells us: “Related to elasticity and plasticity—the ability to change and morph as the challenges hit you rapid fire. In the SEALs we coined the term Semper Gumby, which meant always flexible. This was a nod to our Marine brothers, whose motto is Semper Fi—always faithful. SEALs are a bit counterculture in the military, and we thought the little green bendy toy Gumby was a pliable mascot. I mean, you could contort it to do all sorts of things, but it always came back to its normal shape with a little effort. Most days I felt like that.”

Semper Gumby.

How great is THAT?

Of course, I can’t think of a stretchy-flexible little green Gumby without thinking of Dan Siegel’s river of flexibility.


As I went to dig up his precise words in our Notes on Mindsight, I realized he *actually* calls it (at least in this context) the “river of integration.”

He tells us: “Now the qualities of an integrated flow spelled a universally memorable word: FACES, for Flexible, Adaptive, Coherent, Energized, and Stable. We can say that any healthy complex system has a FACES flow. In other words, when the self-organizational movement of the system is maximizing complexity, it attains a harmonious flow that is at once flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized, and stable…

I like to imagine the FACES flow as a river. The central channel of the river is the ever- changing flow of integration and harmony. One boundary of this flow is chaos. The other boundary is rigidity. These are the two banks of the river of integration.”


Healthy, integrated people are not only FLEXIBLE, they’re also ADAPTIVE. And COHERENT. And ENERGIZED. And STABLE.

Leaning into the flexible river theme, Dan also tells us: “An old, dear and now-departed friend, the poet, philosopher, and all around wonderfully wise John O’Donohue, captured the essence of this emergent flow when he said that he’d love to live like a river, carried by the surprise of his own unfolding.”

That’s Today’s +1.

Here’s to the Optimized-Gumby version of us joyfully navigating the river of life. Surprised by our own unfolding. And by our remarkable and resilient flexibility. And… by our astonishing green-ness. 🤓

Semper Gumby.


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