Water, when faced with an obstacle, changes direction. When faced with circumstances beyond its control — like heat or cold — water changes form, to steam or ice. Water yields to the problem. Water is both yielding and unstoppable.
Water is life. Life is unfair and unpredictable. Water is always changing itself or what it encounters. Water has the power to change the shape of the Earth. It can be a destructive force or a gentle healer. Water is a source of energy and a mode of transportation. Water can be inspirational, mathematical, physical, mysterious, multi-dimensional, and metaphorical.
A be like water frame will give your organization a new thought process and a behavioral model. When plans go wrong, people will change and adapt…like water. Their basic elements (characteristics and talents) will remain the same. It is their form and direction that will change. Your staff will learn to create and communicate solutions through a water filter because whatever outlook and methodology they have used in the past does not work today. If it did, they would not have to sit through motivational speeches and attend mandatory team building exercises every year.
How does an organization or leader behave like water?
1) Discover your basic “elements.” Where people are concerned, basic elements are themes, a nucleus of capabilities, talents, experiences, characteristics, and how they work together. Here lie the real dynamics of power.
2) Explain your purpose. The purpose of water is to return to the ocean. As liquid it bends and carves its way through the landscape, becoming vapor or solid depending on circumstance. Without a purpose, you will not have a criterion for making the difficult decision of how to adapt (bend or carve). Making decisions aligned with your purpose teaches you creativity (changing form).
3) Practice the art of re-framing. Keep the facts of the matter (water is always H2O) and change the context or the meaning attributed to the situation and therefore its consequences.
Successful companies today do not sell products and services so much as they sell values and their worldview. Dealing with obstacles is how businessmen and women express themselves…to yield, adapt or change direction, and move unstoppably forward. Solve problems like water does.
Be Like Water.