Be a River

“A river can be wide or narrow, shallow or deep, swift or slow. But of all its characteristics, two are most distinctive: it makes its own path, and it flows relentlessly.”
-Joseph M. Marshall, III in Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance

When my wife and I last visited Arizona, she bought me Joseph Marshall’s little book about a modern Native American boy from the Lakota tribe who consults his grandfather, Old Hawk, about the hardships of life.  Old Hawk uses parables from everywhere to explain the principles he is trying to instill in his grandson.  But this particular quotation about rivers stuck with me long after I closed the book.

It struck me that I could be giving powerful advice to my clients by simply suggesting to them that they “be a river”—that they make their own paths and flow relentlessly.

In Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill tells the story of R.U. Darby and his uncle, who went to Colorado in search of gold and quit after months of digging, which failed to yield the vein of gold they thought they had discovered.  The “junk” man to whom they sold their equipment went on to find one of the richest gold mines in the state, a mere three feet below the point where Darby and his uncle had stopped.

The lesson was simple: Darby and his uncle had not been a river.  The two gold miners had possessed one, but not both, of the river’s characteristics: they had made their own path.  But the other had been missing: they hadn’t flowed relentlessly.

I think of the countless people who make the decision to get into sales or services and strike out on their own, and then either go to work for someone else as an employee, or quit the field altogether.  Like Darby and his uncle, these people make their own paths, but when the going gets tough, they just stop flowing—often only three feet from their own successes.

Then, there are the ones who dream of making their own paths, but start working for others, and never do.

Be a River.  If you’re struggling, it simply means that there are obstacles impeding your flow, but the force of your relentless effort will either get you around those obstacles, or wash them all downstream.  Don’t stop, and don’t let them stop you.

If you’re a smart river, you’ll get help—from the many great books and audio programs available to you or, better still, from a coach or mentor or anyone who can teach you new strategies to streamline your vision.

If you’ve made your own path but you’re becoming frustrated, stuck, or burnt out, contact me now.  Just keep flowing, and keep REACHING…