World renowned martial artist Bruce Lee once said, “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, and it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
This philosophy, to “be like water”, is wise advice to guide your career or live your life by for that matter. Watch how water travels over rocks in a stream. Notice how it easily navigates around the rocks blocking the flow. Effortlessly, water divides to go around the rocks and meets on the other side to continue its journey. It pools and subsides; it rushes and trickles, but it never tries to stop the natural flow. Water’s strength is in its flexibility. It doesn’t rush when it should be trickling. It flows, twists and turns and always arrives at its final destination in due time.
Now think of that thing, your nemesis, of which you have been struggling with making no headway. Relax and ease up on yourself. Repeat these powerful words, “be like water”. Be like water tells you to stop beating your head against the wall and go with the flow. You will achieve your goal when you are ready and more importantly, when the universe is ready for you.
Ever notice when you are on the right path the universe seems to respond accordingly? New opportunities knock at your door or you meet the right person at the right time or somehow the money you need for school suddenly appears? Prosperity literally rains down on you when you aren’t watching! That is, “be like water”.
Several years ago I found myself, like many people, in the position of being downsized. I could have easily panicked to the point of being paralyzed but something inside me knew this downsizing had the potential to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I believed deep in my heart that a better future was waiting for me. Despite a poor job market, miraculously within days I was looking at two different lucrative job offers.
One offer was a position twelve miles from my home and the other was 1,200 miles away in Colorado with a huge relocation bonus and an opportunity to start a new life. After much deliberation with time ticking away like sand in an hourglass, I held my breath, took a big leap and chose the more difficult path, Denver.
I packed up most of my favorite belongings and drove across country in my bright orange Honda Element to my temporary living space and welcomed the new landscape of Denver. Fast forward six weeks, something just didn’t feel right and the job was disappointing to say the least. I could have commiserated but I trusted the flow of the universe. I called up the first offer and asked if the position was still available. Low and behold it was mine if I still wanted it! I returned my relocation check, packed up my favorite belongings, yet again, and arrived back home just in time to enroll in my next college class, ironically, “Strategic Planning”.
Sometimes we think we are on the right path but things unexpectedly change. You must have the courage to travel along the twists and bends in the road. You must be open to receive the opportunities being presented to you. Simply put, you must have patience and a lot of faith.
So until your moment is right, keep believing, keep hoping and keep dreaming. Keep working toward the change, the relationship or the job you want. You will eventually arrive at your destination. The ability to just let go and flow with the current of life is your greatest strength. The greatest wisdom comes from knowing you will eventually get to where you need to go. Your choice is whether you do it smoothly or strain against the current.
Take a life lesson from Bruce Lee and be water, my friend.