You and I often hear this expression, and we may sometimes use it ourselves.
It can be used in a number of contexts:
Just ‘go along’ with whatever is happening, whether you agree with it or not.
Don’t ‘make waves’
Follow the ‘crowd’
The thing is that ‘going with the flow’ is not always such a good idea.
You see, if you and I just go with the flow we tend to lose control over whatever is going on at the time and be dragged off in a direction we didn’t really want to go.
Follow the crowd of lemmings over the cliff, perhaps.
Sometimes the flow can be quite gentle, almost imperceptible, until all of a sudden we hit the waterfall and everything comes crashing down.
Sometimes we hit the rapids, collide with another ‘flow’, everything gets mixed up and we find ourselves somewhere completely different, doing things we really wouldn’t want to do.
Or maybe the flow just reaches the ocean, and may meander around a bit before it finally get swallowed up into oblivion.
Going with the flow is definitely not a good plan.
Great and successful people have usually gone against the flow.
Innovators go against the flow to discover new ideas and different ways of doing things.
And they’re called ‘mad’ and questioned about how they dare to think in a different way.
You see, ‘the flow’ doesn’t like people going in the ‘wrong’ direction.
It makes waves.
And waves disrupt the flow.
Waves challenge the status quo, question things as they are and cause uncertainty.
The flow craves certainty, it ‘knows where it’s going’.
But unfortunately, that’s usually ‘downhill’.
To many people, probably most people, going with the flow seems to generate a feeling of ‘normality’.
Nothing can go wrong, look, all those other people are doing the same as me, they can’t all be wrong.
Which is fine, until something does ‘go wrong’
But then the direction changes, and even though some people don’t really want to go in the new direction, they ‘keep calm and carry on’ – going with the flow – like all the other ‘normal’ people.
There are two things that you and I can do to avoid being carried along.
One is to ‘step aside’ get out of the stream, and either sit back, relax and watch the waters go by, or go off alone ‘on foot’ in a new direction.
This works for some, but perhaps you and I want something better.
Perhaps we don’t want to ‘go it alone’. Perhaps we want to help others to be different from the norm or perhaps we want to produce something that will help them at least consider changing direction.
The first thing for you and I to do is to stop.
Find a rock on which to create a base and start to make our ideas or services know to the people flowing by.
We need to start ‘making waves’
We need to disturb the flow to such an extent that other people will join us on our rock.
And when this reaches a critical mass in proportion to the strength of the particular flow we are in we can, together, start to go against the flow.
Although, of course, we need to know where we’re going and why; and we need to know what it will look like when we get there.
This way, you and I can build our ‘brand’ our business and our reputation.
We can even create our own ‘flow’.
But it won’t be one that goes mindlessly downhill.
We can plot the course of our personal flow before it starts. All we need to know is where we want it to go.
Look around at what’s going on.
Are you ‘in the flow’?
Is it one you really want to be in?
What are you going to do about it?