Apr 3, 2018 By Dave Nelson, Survivor, Founder, CEO, Speaker & Coach at Milestone Mind
Have you heard the Chinese proverb, “Be water”?
It’s one of my favorite aphorisms – but you might be surprised to find out why.
There a lot of ways to interpret this phrase. Depending on the context, it might mean “Go with the flow of your own life” or “Be flexible in your outcomes, but steadfast in your process.” Or it mean you should stay calm and peaceful in your approach to life.
If you just look at this proverb on the surface, it might look like a overused cliche. It may even seem a little fluffy, like a lot of other mantras that dole out life advice.
I want to deconstruct this phrase for you, and explain what it means to me as a Milestone Mind coach. I want to pick it apart and show you a deeper way to look at this proverb – a way that can give you purpose and meaning, and help you create powerful forces for change in your life.
Here are Milestone Mind, we believe the adage “be water” means “be an unstoppable force.”
To live a meaningful life, you can’t always be calm and peaceful. You have to have passion, strength, and perseverance.
To give the proverb meaning in your life, you need to find a way to “be water” that truly resonates with you and the people you lead.
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The Unexpected Power of Water
Imagine for a second that you have a single water molecule in the palm of your hand.
Can you even see the water molecule? Probably not.
We're all covered in water molecules all the time, and we even breathe them in, day to day and breath to breath.
But we can't see, taste, or sense, or touch a water molecule. A single molecule of water is actually pretty insignificant.
Now I want you to imagine you have a puddle of water in the palm of your hand. Can you feel and see the puddle? You can, right?
That puddle is made up of millions of molecules.
The water in the puddle is still pretty insignificant, though.
Now I want you to pretend you're sitting on your favorite beach.
You look out at the ocean, and you notice the level of the ocean has dropped, and it looks like the tide has gone out by almost a mile.
You sense danger, so you look more closely, and then you spot a massive wall of water coming straight at you at nearly 500 miles per hour. That’s the speed of a commercial jet plane.
What do you think of water now? It looks powerful – even terrifying – when that tsunami is barreling down on you.
In this visualization exercise, you went from picturing a single molecule, to a puddle, to a huge wave crashing toward you.
What do you think of water now? It's a pretty badass force, isn't it?
Kind of sheds a different light on the proverb “Be water,” don’t you think?
Water Can Become Tough, Too.
We all know that when you make water cold, you can freeze it.
As water’s surface tension increases, it turns to ice, and its state changes from a liquid to a solid.
And as water solidifies, it becomes stronger and far less breakable.
Very cold water is used to fortify the spirit of men and women who undergo intense, physically and emotionally demanding warrior rituals in different cultures (including our own, here in the U.S.).
Being cold and uncomfortable is one of the most effective ways to improve mental strength, but it also produces sharp, clear presence of mind. When you're cold, you're thinking of absolutely nothing other than the present...the here and now.
Super cold water can also push you to your outer limits – but as you reach one limit, you set the bar higher. You can keep repeating this pattern until the feat you just completed actually seems easier.
Your surface tension as a human being can improve over time, as you become stronger and less likely to break.
“Being Water” Can Make You an Unstoppable Force
When you adopt “be water” as your own personal mantra, you can use that power to accomplish absolutely anything.
You can transform yourself into an unstoppable force.
Think of every breath you take as a single molecule of water.
Picture every day you live on this earth as a puddle of water.
But molecules and puddles won’t create the force you need to make a tsunami.
To create a massive wave, you’ll need to take the molecule and the puddle, put them in a freezer, fortify them to just before their freezing point, and compound them, day after day.
As you add up all the breaths and days of your life, you’ll amass enough water, surface tension, and force to create an unstoppable tsunami.
The only really differences between a wave and a molecule are the amount of water, the forward motion, and the force behind them.
Here at Milestone Mind, we believe “Be water” means you can be kind, calm, unflappable, and healthy in your everyday life, like a flowing river.
But you can also add all your days together, and total all your forward motion and work, to create your own tsunami effect. That means having a life where you’re absolutely unbreakable and unstoppable.
The tsunami effect takes daily, consistent, and deliberate action, however. Without this deliberate, consistent action, your life will be just a lukewarm puddle.
So be water...but make sure you’re focused on creating your own tsunami over time.
You’ll be amazed at the results you can achieve.
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