Without conscious awareness, pushing the river is the default model in today’s world. Everyone is employing the model simply because society has conditioned us this way. From the time we were young we were told ‘work hard, play hard’ – the harder you work, the better the results – and you MUST get results! We are commanded to get results at school, in sport, even our spiritual lives are results driven. In our current model results define you, they make a statement of who you are. Without good results is your life worthwhile?
There’s a very subtle yet powerful difference between pushing the river and riding it, so subtle that perhaps a real life example of the two would best explain the difference. A friend of mine is dating a lady who is an interior decorator. One day she overheard her boss stressing about a particularly big deal which he had won to redecorate a chain of guest houses. Having struck the deal he found that the fabric selected for the furniture was out of stock and completely unavailable anywhere. This obviously delayed promised delivery times, putting the order in jeopardy. The last thing the boss wanted was the client to cancel the order.
As a result, and in conformance to the ‘push the river’ model, she heard her boss lying to the customer on the one side whilst abusing the supplier on the other. As is usual in the push the river model, the pusher was pushed to his limit and was having an awful time. All his negative energy was spilling over into the rest of the office.
Whilst other employees shrugged the situation off, the lady in question became interested in what was happening and, using her own time, popped into the client’s guest house to have a look. When she arrived and viewed the current décor it was immediately apparent to her decorating mind that the out of stock fabric was in fact not the best match for the rooms in question.
Upon returning to the office, still without telling her boss what she was doing, she identified some fabric that she felt would be a much more attractive option. On enquiry she discovered that there was no problem with availability of her suggested fabric – in fact they even had several bales in their own stock.
She called the client, explaining that she had visited his premises, and that she had identified some really super fabric which she would like to show him. When the client arrived and looked at the fabric sample, he immediately agreed with her assessment and readily signed a re-order for the different fabric. Problem gone!
This story clearly demonstrates the difference between the push the river and ride the river model. The enraged and stressed boss, was enraged and stressed because he was having to push the deal through. He had a sense that all his efforts in securing the first deal were being undermined. He had a sense that life was stealing away what was rightfully his. He had a sense that life has an irritating way of going wrong. His model of the world made the whole affair angry and unresolved.
The vitally interested and passionately involved decorator was motivated by a love of beautiful houses. She had a sense of the lovely and wished to express it. She followed her heart’s leading at every turn, not for outcomes, but just because it was her make up, and she was being true to it. Her model of the world swept problems effortlessly away. Ironically all the wasted energy of the boss yielded no results, whereas the sweet and easy energy of the love of décor produced superb results. Today, instead of feeling driven and stressed, look in your heart for what you love and allow yourself to say YES to it. when you do that, a magical state of flow becomes suddenly possible! (Extract from Cat Glennie’s book RIDE THE RIVER)