Be the river, not the rock

Be the river, not the rock. It’s one of my favorite sayings. It’s one of my favorite things to coach on. But, what does it mean?

When it comes to any part of our lives (relationships, schedules, changes, etc.), we can choose to be the river or the rock.

The river flows around the hard rock. The river is loosey-goosey. It keeps moving in the same direction, undeterred by immoveable, stubborn obstacles or objects. It finds a way. It breezes by, over, around or underneath. The river yields to the rock.

The rock, on the other hand, is unmoving. It’s stubborn. It’s hard. It’s stuck. It refuses to give. It stays put and watches the river flow right by.

In our lives this can look like “going with the flow” in social settings. It can look like shrugging off changes and things we can’t control. It can look like being mobile, spontaneous and creative to help individual or team efforts.

Or it can look like being rigid and refusing to give up ground in an argument. It can look like “my way or the highway.” It can look like only sticking to the predetermined course of action. It can look like refusing to try something new, to change or to develop other ideas. It can look like “sticking to your guns” even when the evidence suggests otherwise.

Clearly we want to be the river. Being the river is much easier. It actually takes less effort to be light and go around than it does to stay stuck and entrenched and unmoving. That’s hard work.

In the end, the river eventually cuts through the rock anyway. Slowly but surely. So, stick with the way of the river.


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