by Peter Davis
Water, when faced with an obstacle, changes direction. When faced with
circumstances beyond its control -- like heat or cold -- water changes form, to steam
or ice. Water yields to the problem. Water is both yielding and unstoppable.
Water is life. Life is unfair and unpredictable. Water is always changing itself or what
it encounters. Water has the power to change the shape of the Earth. It can be a
destructive force or a gentle healer. Water is a source of energy and a mode of
transportation. Water can be inspirational, mathematical, physical, mysterious,
multi-dimensional and metaphorical.
The be like water frame will give your organization an efficient and productive
behavioral model. When plans go wrong, people will change and adapt…like water.
Their basic elements will remain the same. It is their form and direction that will
How does an organization or leader behave like water?
1) Discover your basic “elements.” Where people are concerned, basic elements
are themes, a nucleus of capabilities, talents, experiences, and characteristics and
how they work together. Here lies the real dynamics of power.
- What is irreducible? What is unique and most relevant?
While water can be many things, at its core, water is H20. Whether liquid, vapor, or
ice the fact of water is constant. Context dictates form.
2) Explain your purpose. Everything in nature has its purpose. What is water’s
purpose? To grow crops? Clean wounds? Carve canyons? Wipe out coastal villages?
The purpose of water is to return to the ocean. As liquid it bends and carves its way
through the landscape, becoming vapor or solid depending on circumstance. Without
a higher purpose you will not have a criteria for making the difficult decision of how to
adapt (bend or carve). Making decisions aligned with your purpose teaches you
creativity (changing form).
- What is your purpose and why does that matter?
Is it to sell cars, or keep people safe? Is it to sell tickets or make people happy? Is
joining a Chamber a business expense or a supportive professional community?
3) Practice the art of re-framing. Keep the facts of the matter (water is always H2O)
and change the context or the meaning attributed to the situation and therefore its
- Harmonious power--Water doesn’t resist. Water joins with the process as it
- What effect has the pandemic had on your business? Learn anything new
about yourself and what is possible?
Successful companies today do not sell products and services so much as they sell
values and their worldview. Dealing with obstacles is how businessmen and women
express themselves…to yield, adapt or change direction, and move unstoppably
forward. Solve problems like water does.
If you are wondering what your higher purpose is, how to articulate it, and how that
matters to your business, brand, and communications strategies contact Peter Davis:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Coffee is on me.