Can you go with the flow?
“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” – Lao Tzu
For the last six months, I’ve been hard at work on a new community service initiative focused on supporting parents of teens. I was deeply inspired to create this program based on perceived need, but in doing the legwork to prepare for our fall events–things just weren’t flowing. I wasn’t getting the support or resources I needed and I was hitting roadblocks everywhere I turned. With great reluctance, I put the project on hold until January. I finally accepted the message that the timing is off and this is just not meant to be right now.
On the work front, I haven’t set annual goals for my business in three years. On purpose. Yet, I manage a successful 17 year-old global coaching/consulting firm, supervise a professional team, travel and speak around the globe, am continually generating new programs and am deeply committed to work-life balance. And, last year was my most financially successful year yet. Why would I not map out our firm’s direction and strategies (something I required my small business clients to do for years)? Because I’ve tapped into a more effective approach to getting things done. I call this new way of working “going with the flow.”
Do I always go with the flow in my home and work life? No. But I do most of the time. It’s my intention to live this way in every area of my life. To remain open and receptive to new opportunities, but rely heavily on my inner guidance system and intuition to steer me towards how best to use my energy, time and talents. To know when to say yes, when to say no and when to say “not now.”
Do I sound like a slacker to you? Let me share a bit about my journey. As the oldest of seven children, the daughter of overachiever parents, a type A personality and someone who likes to live and work BIG, for years I pushed myself to accomplish and produce so I could feel more worthy (getting you on the cover of National Geographic was not enough–you needed to be featured on NOVA, as well!). Professionally I was very successful. I helped a lot of people and did a lot of good along the way. But in the process, I exhausted myself. I adopted many stressful habits and ways of approaching work and life –such as always raising the bar and never feeling good enough– that after time, no longer served me. In my early thirties, several wise teachers entered my life and coached me on how to trust in the flow of life and l-e-t g-o. These sages showed me by example that there is another way to get things done that is more intuitive, natural, spontaneous and kind. I discovered that when you go with the flow–some call this working in “the zone,” being in an alpha wave state or finding your sweet spot–you adopt a way of moving in the world that allows you to bring projects to fruition, launch big initiatives, navigate major life changes, serve in a way that feeds rather than drains you– and still be present and connected to your loved ones and to yourself.
Looking ahead, September can be an intense month for many on the personal and professional front (the start of school and new beginnings!) and work-life balance can be particularly challenging. But I plan to do less pushing and more allowing this month. I intend to listen quietly and attentively for what is mine to do. To let go, trust more and allow myself to stay in flow so this month feels more like floating down the river in an inner tube than paddling upstream in a canoe.
Have a favorite practice that helps you stay “in flow?” Share it in the comments section below!