By Rowdy Teaff, News Editor
“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. Put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow, or creep, or drip, or crash. Be water my friend.” -Bruce Lee
Whether or not the folklore and clout that surrounds Bruce Lee’s name is fact or fiction, I still love this quote. One of the best things I learned in my summer internship two years ago had nothing to do with strength and conditioning, health or movement. This little quote was something that has stuck with me for nearly two years now – “be like water.”
This may seem like a pointless metaphor, but if you really try to apply it to your life, it can be impactful. As a water travels down a stream, it doesn’t stop to go around rocks, it simply takes the path of least resistance to get to its end destination. The rocks in the stream are the unexpected expenses, quizzes and stress that you encounter. You can choose to make that stressor a big deal, or you can simply go around the rock without stopping.
Plans are great, until something doesn’t go according to that plan. Even the best laid out plans fail, so you have to be prepared for the unexpected. Dealing with stress is something that needs to be a skill that young professionals are able to hone in on. When your career is in utero, you don’t have the freedom that a weathered veteran has.
One conversation I had towards the end of my internship with one of the other interns instilled a strong desire to be the best version of myself. On that particular day we had just got done digging a ditch to hold some barriers for a sandpit at our internship’s facility. The summer had been very long, and he and I had worked for nearly 30 hours a week, unpaid, for six days a week. That day’s particular activity was a “volunteer” opportunity, which is something that most interns know is “mandatory.” I was tired. I was talking with my friend in the parking lot as we took out the trash to go home, and I made the comment, “Sometimes I wish I could just say no.” He laughed and looked at me and replied, “Right now we are working so that one day we have the ability to say no, but for now we get to be the yes men.”
Working with, and around, successful people makes you see things in a different light. The subtle art of adaptability seems so effortless to them. The worst setback in a normal person’s day is nothing more than a rock in a stream to them because they simply flow right over it. People in positions of success weren’t born with the superpower of serenity, they simply choose to work towards their goals.
Fluidity seems to be a gift that escapes us mere mortals but being able to move like water is just a choice. Just because one thing goes wrong, doesn’t mean that the entire day has to be ruined. Being able to own the day doesn’t mean that you do everything perfectly, it means that you give everything your best effort. Acknowledge your faults, but execute everything to the best of your ability.
It’s easier to get caught up in the little things. Fatigue will cause you to cower from the simplest tasks, but you’ve got to be able to move past those things if you are going to be able to own your life. Being fluid in your walk through life isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but once you learn to adapt, life gets easier. Move like water, be the yes man and go own your life.