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
Last weekend my teenager was in total disequilibrium. My old style would have been to try and figure it all out, gain control (hah!) and create and execute a plan for how best to help him. But when I softened, admitted I did not have the answers and remembered how much of his behavior is due to his adolescent brain rewiring—I let out a sigh of relief and let go. And lo and behold, when I relaxed, the entire family dynamic shifted and everyone relaxed.
On the work front, I haven’t written out annual goals or a marketing plan for my business in two years. On purpose. Yet, I manage a successful global coaching/consulting firm, supervise a professional team, travel for work, am continually generating new programs and am deeply committed to work-life balance. Why would I not map out our firm’s direction and strategies (something I advised clients to do for years)? Because I’ve tapped into a more natural, spontaneous approach to getting things done. I call this new way “going with the flow.”
Do I always go with the flow in my home and work life? No. But I do a lot 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.
Maybe I sound like a slacker to some of 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.
Traditionally April is an intense month for many on the personal and professional front (the height of spring 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 below!