Here’s how you can gain tremendous clarity on why you thrive in some areas and struggle in others. When you hear someone talking about anything important to them, ask yourself, “Are they in flow, or are they trying to control?” (You can ask the same question when reflecting on your own behavior, but sometimes it’s easier to be objective when it’s someone else in the thick of things.)
If it’s an area they struggle in you’ll notice most of their talk on the subject is about trying to control some aspect of the process or the outcome.
- “I know I’ve got to do this, but I just can’t get myself to follow through.”
- “I’m not lifting a finger until she takes care of that first.”
- “I’ve tried everything humanly possible to please him and he still finds something to complain about.”
Struggle is the result of trying to gain leverage you don’t have rather than applying the leverage you already have. It’s requiring someone or something to change first instead of simply becoming the change you desire.
There are people who will control, control, control, until a deadline they can’t control comes up and causes them to let go and get moving. This pattern might eventually yield successful results, but it adds lots of struggle to the journey. Imagine a pilot refusing to land the plane until the conditions are perfect, only to eventually be forced to land because the plane is out of gas. If you just accept the bumpy landing you’ll move on a lot quicker, and still have gas in your tank to pull up and try again if something actually goes wrong.
Flow, on the other hand, sounds completely different. It’s not always pretty, it’s not always polished, but it allows the rubber to meet the road. Flow is following an impulse without knowing where it might lead you. It’s telling someone how you honestly feel, instead of trying to be polite. It’s the drunk friend at the bar that says, “I don’t care what you think, I just want to get laid.” Flow, at its core, is an unconditional surrender to connection.
How to Choose Flow Over Control
- Flow without control leads to the unknown.
- Control without flow leads to struggle.
- Controlling the flow leads to mastery.
When faced with a choice between flow and control, you’d be surprised at how often we choose control and struggle over venturing into the unknown. Fear of the unknown will limit you to controlling what you do know. Flowing without control requires a trust that things are always working out for you.
Consistently choosing flow is as simple as cultivating the right attitude. “Let’s try something new and see where it leads us!” Will take you somewhere. “I’m not sure about that.” Will keep you where you are. Rather than advise you to try everything under the sun in hopes that it might take you somewhere, I offer this simple process for confidently following through on your decisions:
If you made a decision from a good feeling place: follow through even when facing uncertainty. When you made a decision from a bad feeling place: let it go. Decisions made from anger lead to anger. Decisions made from love lead to love. Follow the flow of what you want more of in your life, and use your control to let go of what no longer feels good.