Action defeats “standing firm.”
Looking at rock and water as contenders in a battle, you’d think rock would easily defeat water because it’s solid, hard, and immoveable.
Lao Tzu observed the following, though, 2600 years ago.
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.
We often believe there is something noble to standing firm, being unwavering and unchanging in our views. The fact is we don’t live in a universe of solidity. We live in a universe of motion. What stands still gets passed by, worn away, and eventually destroyed by what moves. The Grand Canyon is one extreme example of this battle between the water and the rock.
After World War I, the French were determined never to allow Germany to invade them again. They built the Maginot Line – a highly-fortified series of concrete barriers, troop placements, and weapons nests along the border with Germany. When World War II came, Germany did not attack the Maginot Line because it was formidable. Instead, they went around it and over it. The world had changed. Aircraft and tanks had evolved and an immovable fortification along your border was an anachronism.
Here’s the question for you today. Are you going to be the rock or the water? Are you going to fortify your position where you are or are you going to move and innovate? Whether in your life, your business, or just philosophically, being soft and fluid is the surest way to victory.
You might ask, “What about timeless virtues like love, compassion, and generosity? Should those change too?”
I’d counter that the change I’m speaking of happens within the time and space of this multiverse where we currently reside. Those timeless virtues are just that – beyond time.
Power hack: What I love about this principle is that it’s easily applicable to your daily life. I’m not saying that the rock has no virtue. Nor that you need to be changing everything all the time. It’s more about a conscious awareness of when you choose to be the rock and when you choose to be the water. If you stand in one place too long, the water will wash you away. But, in any given moment, the rock may be your best choice.
May you choose the rock and the water wisely today and every day.