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Stop Paddling Up Stream, Follow Your Flow

I am paraphrasing Abraham from Ester and Jerry Hicks’ You Tube video called, The Stream.

We are born into this Universe with its raw power and natural flow, like a giant river. Then we are told by well meaning people, “Put your canoe in the water and turn it up stream, and paddle like crazy.” Work hard towards lofty goals, family obligations, or esteemed accomplishments. (Like having the perfect family, a powerful and famous career, or being desirable and beautiful.)

Yet, if you stop paddling so hard upstream, the canoe will naturally right itself, and you will effortlessly flow down river. Toward what you really love and are a natural at. (Like having a good enough family, a career that makes your heart open, and falling in love with yourself just as you are.)

I’m Paddling Upstream

When I heard this it made me think about how hard I am working in so many areas of my life.

  • Susan and I are trying to grow our business, thrive! - right here in Montana. In case you didn’t know, we work with business leaders and their teams to help them learn how to use the energy of conflict (rather than defuse it) for innovative, profitable results. In our efforts to grow our business, we take one step forward, and it seems like we stall.

  • Then, there is the book on our thrive! methodology and client success stories. Yes, the book - that we have been trying to write for the last, oh, I don’t know, three years! It has been a slough.

  • Of course, then there are my regular never ending quests like being thinner, having nicer skin and thick, long hair, and being fashionably dressed – all while I get older!

These are the places that I feel like I am currently paddling upstream - working really hard and on something that think I must do to survive; need to do to make enough money so I can finally relax; or should do because otherwise I will become irrelevant.

Ugh! Notice the survival quality and the worry about fitting in with the rest of the world. There is a quality of obligation, resignation, or desperateness. Not any fun!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that we each have responsibilities and do have to work hard sometimes in our lives, but there is a difference between working hard on something you love, versus working hard, and spinning your wheels on what you think you have to do, or should do and don’t want to be doing.

Where Are You Paddling Upstream?

Think about your life. Make a list of the situations, places that you staunchly believe:

  • I have no choice, I have to do it.

  • People are expecting me to do this.

  • I won’t be able to pay my rent if I don’t!

  • The kids need me. They are not going to take care of themselves!

  • I can’t disappoint (Mom and Dad, my partner, the kids, _________)

Really? This is your life. Yes, I know you have responsibilities, but if you keep doing them from that energy of obligation, you are not going to enjoy this ride of life. Remember, this is a short trip here on earth. Why not try to enjoy it a bit more?!

Flow Your Flow: The 3 B’s

As many of you know, I am on the faculty at Martha Beck, Life Coaching Training. One of Martha’s basic tools is called the 3 B’s: Better it, Barter it, Bag it.

For those have to to do’s you want to improve your experience of them.

  • BETTER it! Okay, maybe there is something you have to do, but why not make the experience more pleasant? So often when we don’t like doing something, we buckle down and muscle through to get it done. Stop that! Make it more interesting, fun, and easier to do!

  • BARTER it! Is there someone else who can do this task instead of you? Believe me, all the things you hate doing, there is someone out there who loves doing them. Really. We are each wired differently, so why not leverage someone else’s talents? If you have the money, pay them. If not, what can you do for them so that you can trade services?

  • BAG it! Yes, just take it off your list. Forget doing it. Never mind it is not for you. Let’s be honest how does it feel to have it on your list? Are you groaning? Then woman, let it go. Stop the quest!


I talked to Susan about us paddling upstream regarding our business, thrive! - and asked, “Where are working really hard and we could do something different?”

As far as building our business here in Montana, we decided we did not have the skills necessary to do marketing effectively. No wonder it was no fun and not working!

  • We decided to BARTER it, and we hired Maria Phelps of Find It Marketing to get our social media marketing going, and our brochures up to professional quality.

  • We did not stop there. We also decided to BETTER our experience of marketing by learning more about it. So we hired a coach, Bill Barren.

As for the book, well we BAGGED it!

  • Well, at least writing it the way we were trying to, which was one long story about a team’s transformation. UGH, that was hard and no fun.

  • Instead, we decided to BETTER it, by utilizing our natural strength for writing short pieces, like this article, and our regular blog posts from our Healthy Conflict Blog

Finally, the never-ending quest for physical perfection.

  • As for losing weight, I decided to BAG it for this summer, since I am in an on-going battle with allergies that completely zaps my energy. It would definitely be working upstream to try to lose weight when I can barely take a walk.

  • As for dressing well, I asked Melissa Richardson of Style Me Montana to come to my home and help me build some fabulous outfits from my very own clothing. She also suggested a couple of new affordable pieces from The Village Shop in Whitefish to fill out my collection.

No More Settling Ladies!

I invite you to stop trying to be something you are not in order to please someone else, or even match some old picture you have in your head about who you should be.

Start with where you are, notice where you are paddling upstream. It doesn’t have to be that way. Start utilizing your own strengths and loves rather than working against them.

Pause, get creative and look for places that you can BETTER it, BARTER it, or BAG it!

CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.


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