Change is constant – Should we “Be like water”?

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 26 seconds

So when I was reading Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown, I loved a lot of what was there on change being constant. I particularly liked a part where she cites another group for talking about change happening in “shocks” (crises like a pandemic) and “slides” (slower change that you can and should respond to with intentionality). I am shifting between reading Emergent Strategy and Holding Change, and I was reminded today of the “be like water” phrase. At first, it appears like she is saying, “go with the flow” because water changes shape according to its container, right? But then when you read the more detailed explanation of what is meant by the Change is Constant principle, here is what is written in Holding Change: “Change is constant (be like water). Freeze bullshit, move like rapids when collective energy is flowing. As the facilitator, you need to continuously transform to meet and guide the room. Less prep, more presence.” The key element here is “Intentional Adaptation” and not just reacting to change and transforming without thought. She writes “the more intention we bring to our daily lives, the more that change can serve our vision” and this is SO MUCH what Intentionally Equitable Hospitality is, and it occurs to me right now that intention is such a central tenet of Islam that perhaps this is why I focus on the word too much. In Islam, you remind yourself of your intention, in your heart or orally if it helps you, (well we forget, but we are encouraged to). The more we are aware of our vision and intentional about how to apply it in our practice, the more likely we are to adapt in ways that help us reach our vision. Because our vision is the end goal.

Because our vision is our end goal and our values are our guide, changing circumstances should not really shake us, they are just new contexts in which to apply our vision. With a “shock” it may be a struggle to do so, but with a “slide” it is so so so important to not let the slow change act upon us without agency. And I am thinking of educational development centers now, and how administration might be pressuring certain directions, or directions are just coming at you and you have no control. If you are clear on your vision you can help shape the direction by making your vision and intention clear. In shifts maybe being like water is not about fitting into containers that others have created for us, but shaping our own containers in the space others have created for us (to recognize you may not control the space, but you can control how you shape yourself within it?). I am unsure if this goes against the “be like water” concept and I have not finished the book yet! What do others think?

Featured image from Pixabay

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