Go with the flow – does it mean the same to everyone?

Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou
Image via Wikipedia

It’s common for Creativity Professionals to encourage clients to go with the flow to allow for new ideas and new decisions to emerge that will help create exciting new futures.

And then I thought: What flow are you asking them to go with?

“When they say “Go with the flow,” what “flow” are they talking about? Do they mean the flow of your early childhood conditioning? The flow of your friends’ opinions? The latest cultural trends? Your immediate instinctual needs? When they say “Go with the flow,” are they urging you to keep doing what’s easiest to do and what will win you the most ego points, even if it keeps you from being true to your soul’s code? I’m here to ask you to consider the possibility that there are many flows to go with.” From Rob Brezny, author of Free Will Astrology and Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia.

Go with the flow definitions from urban dictionary

  1. Transitive verb. 1. To not push against prevailing behavior/norms/attitudes, occasionally including bowing to peer pressure. 2. To not attempt to exert a large amount of influence on the course of events, whether a specific series of events or events in general. A person who does this is often referred to as “laid-back” or “easygoing”. Past tense: “went with the flow”
  2. When you just don’t know what is going on and lay back to see whats gonna happen… You just go with the flow
  3. Colloquial expression;To ‘go with the flow’ means to not have a particularly strong opinion on something, and thus follow the majority. ==> First known to be used by the Roman Emperor Marcus Arelius (yes, the one from Gladiator) in his writings ‘the Meditations.’ Marcus wrote a lot about the flow of thoughts and happiness and he concluded that “most things flow naturally” and in his opinion it was better to “Go with the Flow” than to try and change society.

What if going with the flow for one person isn’t the same as it is for someone else?

What if one person’s vision of going with the flow is a lazy inner-tube kind of journey while to another’s is using all human force available to navigate through rapids.  Or, what if the flow is a big wave, like the Hawaiian surf or a Tsunami?  To some, following the flow could lead to a steep waterfall or a down a drain.

Interesting, eh?  To help you churn through this question for yourself, you may want to consult Zen Habits blog post: 12 steps you can take to go with the flow.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao-Tzu