Force and Flow: What’s the Difference and What Do They Have to do With Persistence?

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Photo by Maico Pereira on Unsplash

What is the difference between force and flow; and, what do they have to do with persistence? An important distinction, and question. What do you think? When you think of force, do you think of persistence? You might. Many people do.

However, in this article we will pull force and persistence apart, so we can see how being in the flow is actually more solidly connected to persistence. Ready? Excellent, let’s go.

Force and Resistance

People often confound force as being persistent. Yet, when you think about force, what comes to mind? Is it flexibility and adaptability? Probably not. Yet, we continue to think about persistence as the ability to withstand our environment. Not so.

When you look at those things that are persistent, they are working with the environment, not against it. Important. Imagine a tree sprout that makes its way through a crack in an asphalt blacktop.

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Photo by Lucas Myers on Unsplash

That sprout is not resisting its environment, it is using the environment to its advantage. Flexibility and adaptability create persistence, not force.

When we use force, we are resisting that which we are confronted with. The lack of flexibility and adaptability is resistance. And, you may persist for a little while by using force, however, you will not stand the test of time. Persistence over time is not possible when we use force. Why?

Because when we apply force to situations and events, we are basically refusing to accept our current reality. And, when we are in denial about our current reality, we are living in resistance.

What to do?

Flow and Persistence

We can recognize and acknowledge that when we are resisting our environment and current reality, we are being resistant. That is first. Once we are aware, we can shift our focus and attention to accepting our environment and current reality for what it is. It just is. That’s all.

And, you don’t get a demerit for being resistant. We are all, at times, resistant. It is part of being a human being. It’s okay. Really feel that. It is okay. Please remember that. Why?

Because when we get frustrated and upset about being resistant, we will use more force. We will try to force a reality to appear that we want more than the current reality. Happens all the time. Why is this an issue?

Because, when we expound that much energy on resisting, and are forcing, we will typically find that we don’t feel all that well. Maybe we aren’t sleeping well. Or, we are feeling even more frustrated and upset. Not helpful. And, not sustainable. Not over time.

Yet, when we go with the flow, or are flexible and adaptable to our environment and current reality, we can continue to create the reality we want to manifest. And, we can do that with much less mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual effort.

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Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

We can actually get more out of the reality we are living in, and can be more creative than we can if we continue to resist and use force. Really.

Can you think of a practical example of how these conceptual ideas play out? I’m sure you can. For now, let me give you an example from my life.

I work in education. And, the work I do involves experiential learning. Think the arts, fitness, professional and personal development, and small business development.

Well, we typically offer about 300 in-person classes a term. Since COVID-19, however, we’ve reduced those offerings to 50 remote classes this past spring, and about 80 remote classes this summer. A big difference.

And, we increased the offerings for summer, because I tasked the team with creating more classes, and then even more classes for fall.

However, what I missed, and missed big, was that the community need wasn’t offering more and more classes.

That was the old business model. What was I doing? Inadvertently, I was resisting the current reality. Yep. Not intentionally, not at all.

Often we resist our current reality out of habit, or a deep desire to, as we’ve discussed, create the reality we deeply want — resistance. What happened?

Well, I had a huge insight as I was working through all of the summer classes we were going to have to cancel. What was that insight?

I was actively resisting and trying to force an old way of doing things onto a totally unrelated and new context. That context, the current reality, where the old model doesn’t fit.

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Photo by Slidebean on Unsplash

Once I was aware, I began to create plans with the team of focusing on core classes, and using the freed up time to create new ways to engage the community. A big deal. Phew. Was a huge insight.

Alright, so we’ve covered the concepts of force and flow and also looked at a practical example. And now, you might be wondering what you can do to move from force and into the flow?

  • Notice when you are resistant — Don’t judge yourself, or be hard on yourself. It is normal to be resistant at times.
  • When you are aware, you can shift from resistance to acceptanceInside of this shift, you will create more flexibility and adaptability, as you begin to accept your current reality.
  • And, once you are in acceptance, you can shift to persistenceA state that allows you to be open, flexible, and adaptable in a sustainable way. In the flow. Accepting what comes, and creating from inside of what is there. Right in front of you.

Alright. I’ve written several pieces on persistence this week. I am more present to the need for persistence as all of us, all of humanity, continue to wonder. Wonder about when life will return to some sense of “normalcy.”

I do believe that what we once knew as normal is gone forevermore. When will there be a new normal?

Don’t know. I do know that the need to be flexible, adaptable, and have the ability to create within high-levels of change has never been more needed than today.

Orginally published on covid-19creativity.com

Written by

Interests include personal and professional development, increasing access to higher education, and finding new ways to create inspiration and equity.

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