‘Be Water, My Friend’

How do we perform at a high level, but, without anxiety? How do we live life with both fierce determination and ambition one hand, along with immense compassion and altruism in the other? How do you achieve greatness and avoid the pitfalls that have consumed people like Harvey Weinstein and so many others?

I’ve been thinking about all this after reading an interview of Michael Gervais. As you may know, he has been interviewing “peak performers” to understand how they do what they do (link here).

In the interview, he mentioned that his favorite quote is this: “Be water, my friend.” Here is the full quote:

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

It’s something Bruce Lee said in an interview. It hints at “Wu Wei,” which in Daoism talks about living in harmony, in a very natural and high-integrity way.

I really like this concept. For me, it is about living in a way that is consistent with your values, whereby you feel intentional and “clean” in all that you do, that you can accomplish much, but, that you do it more for the journey and process rather than the results.

It also is about, literally, “going with the flow.” There’s a famous Buddhist saying that resisting the life’s challenges creates a lot of un-needed pain. IMO, eventually, you may fall prey to unhealthy ways of dealing with stress.

Up above is a video. Notice how intense Bruce Lee is. I love it.

Everyday, I work with entrepreneurs who want to achieve much. I hope they all think about the quote.

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