Are you the River or are you the Stone?

It has been said that in a contest between a river and a rock the river always wins. Why? Because the river is willing to follow the natural call of gravity, going over, under, around or, eventually, through the rock, to its destiny which, as with all water, is to ultimately merge with the ocean. The rock is stuck where it is, relentlessly pushing against the river, resisting the natural flow of water until, over a long enough period of time, it’s worn down to a pebble.
— "The Challenge of Change: Are You the River or the Rock?" Huffington Post, 1/29/14

The quote above is from a blog post that I had not read before I pasted an excerpt here. I read this metaphor in a more concise form, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about how it relates right now to my approach to life. Let's dig in...


Six weeks ago, before I learned of this metaphor, I was the rock. My approach to life had become rigid in many ways.

  • In business, I was taking an overly philosophical stance in the work I would do. My solution (a Strategic Blueprint) works every time, but it also requires an intense outlay of resources on both the part of the client and the consultant.

  • In my Ashtanga Yoga practice, I was strict to the tradition of mysore, showing up before sunrise day in and day out despite finding it more difficult to get to sleep with the sun still up.

  • In my social life, I had sworn off alcohol which I found to be wonderfully beneficial, yet terribly isolating.

At this moment six weeks ago, I required change.

I made the declaration that I was going to be OPEN with every aspect of my life. By doing so, I was inviting change to take hold.

It was a matter of urgency, you see. My business had zero clients (no income) and I was running out of money. I wasn't getting enough sleep and I was feeling detached from my peers 548 days after I stopped drinking.

Change started with my yoga practice.

I aligned with the schedule of a new studio in Clintonville, placed my other membership on hold for several months, and started working with an amazing teacher.

With my business, I started reaching out to friends throughout the country that I'm open to finding ways to work together. I also changed my business model from project-based to an hourly rate and less of an 'agency model,' and more a 'consultancy' with my own experience and expertise at the core (where I wanted it to be anyway!). And yes, I had a drink; never more than one or two, but a change in my life nonetheless. 

The results of approaching life and business with an OPEN mindset have been wild.

  • My business is now filled with both heart-filled clients in Columbus, and leading edge Blockchain technology visionary clients in the Bay Area. I never even considered my own strengths as a full-stack communicator, capable of everything from storytelling, to creating a brand, to being the consultant I had been a decade ago at my first agency.
  • And I've had drinks with friends. Sitting at the bar, asking for the lowest ABV options, and enjoying the moment with people I had disconnected from. Before this moment, I had come to the conclusion that my 'stopping drinking' policy was personal. It was related to meeting my biological dad for the first time who battled alcoholism for three decades. I am not my father, but taking a year and a half off helped me gain a new understanding about alcohol.
  • And yoga. Running a marathon doesn't compare to the never-ending marathon of improving upon my practice. I always aligned with yoga because of it's spiritual aspects, moments of presence and concentration in my day that elude me otherwise.

I am the River

The only way to conclude this note is with a declaration: I am the river, yet I'm grounded in the principles of who I was, who I am today and an openness to who I will be tomorrow.

David All