Creativity in Bad Times – Think Like Water

Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round 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.

– Bruce Lee

In good times, people have the illusion that coming up with a single good idea is enough. A single good idea will make you rich for life or solve a problem permanently. People think of problems as walls and ideas as battering rams to break through them. It’s not true, but it’s easy to believe.

Problems do not stand still. They grow and shrink, sometimes they fade away on their own and new problems appear where there were none before.

In bad times, people get frustrated because what worked before is no longer possible. The shifting landscape of the world puts up barrier after barrier and things that have worked for years become impossible, illegal or just plain stop working.

This is when it’s easy to fail, because to succeed means having to constantly change and, even more painfully, having to admit that you were wrong.

That’s why I think it’s important to think about your creativity as if it were water. Instead of charging forward and battering things down, although it is capable of that, water can slowly wear down mountains and is constantly searching for a way to flow forward. It can break through a problem, but can also go under, around or through it.

Water is patient and seemingly undemanding. It fits perfectly into any situation it’s put in. Water changes with the landscape as it changes everything it touches. It isn’t upset to have to change its path.

Creativity is survival. Water survives difficult situations by setting its own conditions for victory.

If you feel like you’re beating your head against a wall, try being water for a while. You might find a crack in the wall and get through, but even if you don’t, at least your head won’t hurt while you work your way through.

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