A few years ago I learned a valuable life lesson that I was reminded of again recently. The lesson was fairly difficult to learn and one that I had to experience the opposite of in order to fully understand the depth of its meaning. The life lesson that I learned was to “go with the flow” or “don’t fight it” and I think it’s just as important to business owners as well.
My lesson started when I began to research an upcoming mountain biking trip to Moab. I literally read hundreds of articles and websites. I cannot tell you how many times I came across the phrase just “go with the flow” with regard to mountain biking in Moab. Of course, this was not a new phrase to me, but not until I went to Moab and had been riding a few days did I begin to understand its meaning. If you aren’t familiar with Moab it contains some of the most technically and physically demanding trails in the US. After two days of riding my arms and legs were toast. I was completely exhausted. I’d start out a ride on a new trail with vigor, but quickly fade as the muscle fatigue set in. It wasn’t until the third day on the morning ride of the Slick Rock Trail that I realized I was not going with the flow. I was fighting it, trying to muscle my way through the tough sections. In fighting the trail I was fighting the earth itself and there was no way I was going to win that battle. I loosened my grip, almost to the point of falling, relaxed my arms, legs and back and became a rag doll on the bike. All of a sudden I was going with the flow. I wasn’t fighting it and my riding was no longer difficult. I actually rode beyond my ability and took on much more challenging trails than the previous two days.
In going with the flow I realized that even though there was still physical exertion it was not exhausting my muscles. I had time to recover and needed less recovery to ride well. How true this is about life too. When we fight the circumstances around us rather than going with the flow we often find that we are expending a ton of energy for little real output.
The same is true for marketing. We stick with the proven ways when everything around us screams something different. I still have clients that want to call all 5000 of their customers to drum up new business. Don’t get me wrong, the personal touch of a phone call can be very powerful, but the same company could engage thousands more if they would simply undertake a few additional activities that duplicate their behavior like blogging or other social media channels and yet they don’t. Fighting the wave of new customer engagement models seems to be easier than changing old habits that produce little, but known results.
Don’t fight it. Go with the flow and I think you’ll be surprised where it leads.
Photo by Tim Brink