Be Like Water

Tom’s 10-year-old granddaughter, Selah, is a wonder to us. Watching her grow, it’s easy to see that she is a natural empath and a total creative soul. She is drawn to art and music and is sensitive to color, form, and emotion, expressed in all different ways. She is also dyslexic and struggles with reading and writing. We greatly admire how hard she (and her parents) work every day to learn in spite of the challenges—and we see how it’s paying off.  

Recently, she composed a poem and submitted it to the Young American’s Poetry Digest where it will soon be published.  It expresses so beautifully her attitude and approach to life, and I believe it has a simple, yet profound, lesson embedded within it for all of us.  

Water by Selah Johnson

We need to be like water.  

Water always finds its way out of a situation.  

Water does not sit and pout.  

Water finds its way out.  

People pout.  

Water pushes its way through things and gets to the place it wants to go.  

After facilitating a dozen team retreats in the past few months, I’m struck by the fact that on every single team there seemed to be at least one (if not several) professionals who use their negativity, past upsets, and current pessimism as a weapon toward others. It’s almost as if, without the negativity, complaining, and blaming of other people or circumstances, they don’t know how to behave or converse. The negativity which permeates their actions, reactions, and dialogue has morphed into a constant and consistent habit. This creates an ongoing state of being and a narrow lens through which they view the world including any evidence to the contrary and has often become part of their very identity as a person, or at least their identity as a team member.  

Through the eyes of a child, Selah’s sweet poem reminds us adults that we always have a choice. No matter how many injustices we feel have been placed upon us or how many times others have disappointed us, hurt our feelings, or acted in ways with which we disagreed, we can choose to be like water. We have the choice to stay stuck and reside in a closed pool of water which stagnates more and more with every passing day, or we can find our way out, push through the hard things, and get to the place where we say we want to go and be. 

You don’t have to drop your standards to reset your counters and start anew with someone.  All of the places we feel stuck in relationships are prime opportunities for growth, skill development, and the building of professional reputations for being someone who takes a stand for the best in people and endless possibilities for the future.  

Water pushes its way through. It gets to the place it wants to go.  

Let’s all be more like water.  

“Positive thinking is more than just a tagline. It changes the way we behave. And I firmly believe that when I am positive, it not only makes me better, but it also makes those around me better.”

~ Harvey Mackay

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