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Much as we might like to, at the energy level, we can’t get rid of something we don’t like—a thought, a feeling, a belief, a circumstance, or a situation. The good news, however, is that we can transform it.
One of the tenets of Transformational Presence work is:
A problem is not something to be solved;
it is a message to be listened to.
Our job is to listen to the message, discover the greater potential wanting to unfold, and partner with that potential to create a new reality.
Partnering with “what is”, instead of fighting against it, is the first step into the “flow” of what wants to happen. We tap into a greater potential wanting to be realized and partner with that potential for new creation. Not only do things get easier, but often we also discover greater possibilities than we had imagined before.
If you’ve ever participated in acting or musical improvisation, you know that the primary rule is that you must accept and work with whatever your improvisation partners give you. If you don’t, there is a good chance that the whole performance will fall apart. Improvisation is a co-creative process. You work with your partners and with whatever is available in the moment to co-create something new together.
Life Is An Ongoing Improvisation
Life works pretty much the same way. It’s an ongoing improvisation—a co-creative process with the people, ideas, beliefs, and circumstances around us. When we accept whatever comes to us and work with it instead of push against it, things are a lot easier. We step beyond our judgments and opinions, likes and dislikes, and accept that, at least for the moment, whatever is in front of us is what we have to work with. It may not be the only thing we have to work with, but it is what is in front of us at the moment.
Whether or not we like it, approve of it, or care about it doesn’t matter. It’s what is here. When we are willing to co-create with what presents itself rather than resist it, there is a much better chance that something new can emerge.
Push Against or Flow With?
This “push against or flow with” concept is also one of the fundamental principles in martial arts. The idea is to take your opponent’s energy and work with it instead of fight against it—to receive your opponent’s energy and let it move through you, transmuting that energy into your own strength and power. If you push against your opponent, you actually give your power away and become weaker.
The same is true with something we consider to be a problem. When we push against it, we give it more power. We lose our energy to the problem. However, in the Transformational Presence approach, we understand that a problem is not something to be solved (push against); it is a message to be listened to (flow with). Within this context, co-creation is a process of intuiting the message that the challenge is trying to show us, tapping into the potential that is waiting to emerge, and flowing with that potential. The potential itself becomes our co-creative partner.
"Flow With" Is Not The Same As "Go With The Flow"
It’s important to note that “flow with” is not the same thing as “go with the flow!” “Go with the flow” means just going along with what is currently happening. However, what is happening may not be leading the situation in a direction that serves the greatest potential. If you are working through a personal situation, sometimes it feels easier to give in to your habits or patterns of response and let whatever happens happen. If it is a group or organizational issue, the pull to follow the group reaction or a path of perceived safety, security, comfort, or familiarity may be very strong. These are examples of “going with the flow.”
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Yet as you sense the greater potential waiting to unfold, you may recognize that what is happening now and what truly wants to happen in service of something bigger are two different things. Intuiting the hidden message and potential is what makes “flow with” different from just giving up or giving in to how the situation is currently unfolding.
As an example, perhaps you have experienced a time when you or your team has committed to a project or goal. However, from the beginning, something about the project wasn’t working. Intuitively, you knew that all of the signals were pointing to a significant shift that wanted to happen in both the company culture as well as some of their fundamental business practices. Perhaps you weren’t the only one who sensed this. However, speaking out could have been risky. Therefore, you and others chose to just “go with the flow”—to follow the ingrained patterns of the organization, and not rock the boat. What happened as a result?
In the end, not following the signals of what wants to happen usually leads to more frustration, cynicism, and disengagement. Furthermore, the project is not likely to succeed.
“Flow with,” on the other hand, could mean listening more deeply to what wants to happen, and using the Three Fundamental Questions to find your next step.
- What wants to happen?
- Who is that asking me/us to be?
- What is it asking me/us to do?
“Flow with” may require speaking out, taking action, or challenging the system. Yet if the system is open enough to be willing to listen and consider another possibility, the potential can lead you forward into new ways of engaging, new practices, and ultimately a healthier, happier, more aligned, and more productive organizational culture.
Stewarding The Potential That Is Trying To Emerge
The potential that is trying to emerge needs a partner or a steward to help it manifest within the current circumstance. It is up to us to be that steward—to co-create with the potential by saying “Yes” to what it asks us for. “Flow with” is a pro-active process of sensing the greatest potential waiting to unfold in service of all involved and then doing our part to steward that potential into reality.
This second principle invites us to consider that the reason a challenge or problem exists is to help us discover something else that is waiting to emerge. It invites us to view the challenge as a gift or as a message bearer, not as something to get rid of.
Because this “Push Against – Flow With” concept is so foundational to Transformational Presence, let’s do a little mini-coaching session to help you ground this concept in your understanding.
Bring to your awareness something in either your professional or personal life that you view as a problem or a challenge. Then, regardless of what your relationship is to that challenge, just for a moment, treat it as a problem that has to be solved right now. Imagine pushing against it. Make something happen. Just fix it. Imagine doing whatever you have to do to make the problem go away so that everything can seem to be OK again.
As you do this, notice what is happening in your body and with your breath. How does it feel to “push against” this issue and try to make something happen? How would you describe your relationship to the problem—how this makes you feel about it? What is your level of inner stress and tension? Stay with this long enough to feel the effects of pushing against.
Then when you are ready, shake that feeling out of your body. Take a few deep and full breaths and come back to a neutral feeling inside.
Now let yourself be present with your challenge again. Yet this time, consider that your challenge might have a message for you. Imagine that you could float up high above your situation and see or sense it from a completely new perspective. There is something that actually wants to happen here. What if the problem only exists in order to show you something else? What if the problem is actually trying to help you see another possibility or keep you from taking a wrong step? Keep breathing and let “what wants to happen” show itself to you.
As you sense “what wants to happen,” let yourself flow with that for the next few minutes. You can always go back to pushing against later if you wish, but for now, see what there is for you to discover by flowing with what actually wants to happen. Notice what is going on in your body and with your breath. What is different than when you were pushing against? What is your level of inner stress and tension now?
Your problem or challenge may still be there. Yet chances are, something is shifting in your relationship to it. This is not a “magic pill” that can just make the problem go away and make everything be right again. However, shifting your relationship to the challenge could completely change how you are approaching it.
“Push Against – Flow With” is a fundamental awareness skill in Transformational Presence. Throughout your day, pause to check in with yourself about how you are being present with whatever is going on. Are you pushing against or are you flowing with?
If you are a leader or a coach or work with other people, teach them this simple skill as well. Just the simple reminder to step back from “pushing against,” pay attention to the message trying to get through, and breathe into “flowing with” can make a big difference in how your team or organization approaches whatever is happening.
©2017 by Alan Seale. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the author and
The Center for Transformational Presence.
Transformational Presence: How To Make a Difference In a Rapidly Changing World
by Alan Seale.
Transformational Presence is an essential guide for: Visionaries who want to move beyond their vision into action; Leaders who are navigating the unknown and pioneering new territory; Individuals and Organizations committed to living into their greatest potential; Coaches, Mentors, and Educators supporting the greatest potential in others; Public servants committed to making a difference; and Anyone who wants to help create a world that works. New World, New Rules, New Approaches.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon. Also available in Kindle format.
About the Author
Alan Seale is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker, transformation catalyst, and founder and director of the Center for Transformational Presence. He is the creator of the Transformational Presence Leadership and Coach Training program which now has graduates from more than 35 countries. His books include Intuitive Living, Soul Mission * Life Vision, The Manifestation Wheel, The Power of Your Presence, Create a World That Works, and most recently, his two-book set, Transformational Presence: How To Make a Difference In a Rapidly Changing World. His books are currently published in English, Dutch, French, Russian, Norwegian, Romanian, and soon in Polish. Alan currently serves clients from six continents and maintains a full teaching and lecture schedule throughout the Americas and Europe. Visit his website at http://www.transformationalpresence.org/