I am right now in Barcelona and apart from everything else that pops to my mind, of which everyone is talking and writing about, the one thing that once again reveals itself clear as ever is: “whatever you resist, persists”. And grows most of the time, I would add.
This is not intended to be a political post. It is not about “sí” or “no” and what got things here, or about the meaning of the word illegal, as in: it’s illegal to put some papers in a box but legal to hit someone with a stick while they are trying to resuscitate someone knocked out on the floor. It’s about the underlying process that, a good share of the time, gets us in the situations that makes us have the above discussions.
Most of the conversations I’ve had with people crossing my path until that particular moment have ended up reaching the same conclusions: “No to violence”, “We live in a disguised dictatorship” and the one most relevant to my point “Now I really want Catalonia to be independent”.
I’ve spoken with Catalans and Andalusians but also with Portuguese, Italians, Colombians, Brazilians, Peruvians, English; some of whom are here in passing, but most of them residing.
See, the resistance of the central government, and also the way that resistance happened (which is a manifestation of the ideological resistance) fuelled the very thing it was trying to resist.
Now even the moderate and the neutral chose a side. Walking along the streets after the sunset, when you cannot see so clearly the shine of the “illegal” Estelada hanging from the balconies and waving with the wind, you can hear the pans and what not, drumming to the rhythm of independence.
In my conversations with Fernando about the daily happenings at Angry Ventures, every now and then there comes a moment when he asks me “why did you attract this [whatever the situation is that apparently excapes my control] to yourself?”. And after trying to answer I eventually end up thinking “more than why, how did I?”.
It is by resisting, most of the times.
As an example, imagine when we are in a meeting (either with a client or colleague) and we sense in the other a fear of some outcome. If that fear is not something we can relate to, then most of the time the first reaction we have is to either deny it or dismiss it as unimportant.
We resist it, or resist the path that acknowledging it implies. That fuels the fear in the other person. Makes it persist.
The underlying process can manifest in any daily situation, from personal relationships to writing code.
Especially when there’s the pressure of a deadline, it is common that a programmer gets stuck in a dead end as they try to keep pushing in the same direction without making much progress, just to not lose what has been built up until then. And the more he or she goes into it, the more dead the end is.
Nevertheless, experienced developers know that the best approach most of the time is to change the path, rethink the architecture, take some steps back and resume working towards the objective. Acknowledging the obstacle and working with it. Which takes me to my point.
Everyone has objectives, and one way to get to them is to visualize a path that can take us there, and then to take the actions needed – in other words, to walk the path. Now, in visualizing the path, or in designing it, we cannot take into account the totality of the scenarios that can happen, but we try anyway. Most of them hide obstacles.
It does not matter if the obstacle was there from the beginning or if it was the path itself that created it. It is not the obstacle that blocks the path, it is the path that leads to the obstacle. Guess which one we can control?
One can use brute-force and resist with all might to impose the path, but not without a huge waste of energy, to say the least.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking
we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
It is by acknowledging, by integrating, by listening, by being open, by yielding, by being together with, and by taking a step back that we are in a better position to see the path to the objective that shows the least resistance. For everyone.
As Bruce Lee has recommended “be water my friend”. Water, as light, always chooses the path of least resistance.
It is when we are embracing and joining together, that we can better negotiate – whether it’s about the fears that are prompted in our meetings or about the borders of our country.
In the end, all these words, to say something that has been part of the eastern knowledge for millennia, as one can read from the Tao Te Ching:
Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight;
Empty and be full;
Wear out and be new;
Have little and gain;
Have much and be confused.
Therefore wise men embrace the one
And set an example to all.
Not putting on a display,
They shine forth.
Not justifying themselves,
They are distinguished.
They receive recognition.
They never falter.
They do not quarrel,
So no one quarrels with them.
Therefore the ancients say, ‘Yield and overcome.’
Is that an empty saying?
Be really whole,
And all things will come to you.
If we all tried to take in these words and make them part of our own essence and conduct, I believe that the future could have a lot more flags (or maybe none at all), better meetings, better software, better relations… And in the end, the drumming of pots and pans that we hear would be in celebration of abundance, tolerance and freedom.