In life you can be the boulder or the water — and the choice makes all the difference in the world.
Years ago, I found myself reading a quirky book relating Winnie the Pooh to the Eastern philosophy of Taoism.
At the time, Winnie the Pooh and his entourage of friends filled books, sippy cups, and bath towels in our home. If author A.A. Milne’s books carried messages beyond a happy-go-lucky bear, a nervous piglet, or donkey forever looking at the world through dark glasses, I wanted to know.
In “The Tao of Pooh” author Benjamin Hoff wrote Pooh was happy not because of being self-described as a “bear of very little brain,” but rather the manner he chose to engage the world.
At a brief 158 pages, the book turned my world upside down.
Turns out, Pooh might not have been the smartest brain in the Hundred Acre Wood after all.
To Pooh, simply taking a different point of view or approach to a problem alters your stress, understanding and potential for success.
Pooh tells Piglet of how the laws of nature support this simple premise. To illustrate, he talks about a large boulder planted in the middle of a mountain stream.
Most people immediately envision conflict — a boulder anchored against the rushing waters while attempting to disrupt the gravitational flow of the universe. And with stubbornness of strategy and purpose, the boulder works unflinchingly to defeat the natural laws of the universe. The byproduct of the boulder’s iron-will creates anxiety, stress and weakness in the boulder itself.
The boulder stands steady, rigid, and one-dimensional in the goal to fight back the water. The water, on the other hand, accepts the natural laws of nature and uses them to its advantage.
The laws of nature in this scenario are that gravity will lead the water downhill. The water accepts this tool’s help but remains being open to alternate ways to pass the boulder.
Water, Pooh says, sees the challenge of reaching the bottom pool from three different points of view: either over, around, or under the boulder. Maybe even a combination of these options. Regardless, by harnessing the invisible momentum of the universe (gravity) and the intelligent selecting of strategies, the water will almost always defeat the hardheaded boulder.
I remember putting the book down as if someone had opened a new door to understanding the world around me. The universe, if I’d be brave enough to leave the one-dimensional world of solutions behind, would naturally reveal opportunities — thus increasing my chances for success. And it worked.
To this day in life I focus on the pool at the bottom of the mountain rather than the boulders in my way — knowing if I step back, be patient and resourceful, I will find ways around even the largest boulders in life. People, money, and even business challenges respond to the wisdom of Pooh.
Pooh might have been be a “bear of very small brain” but we can all learn a lot from him.