I am one of those who refuse to “go with the flow” because — I have discovered over the arc of a long life — that “going with the flow” is actually a code phrase for having no schedule, and a cudgel of indecision against ambition, and a smothering blanket of malaise that excuses anyone “in the flow” from having any responsibility for getting anything done at all.


As a freelance author and consultant, I value my time, and I know how quickly a day can get eaten up with mindless things.

Structure is paramount for keeping on track when the wind is yours and that’s why I set deadlines for things I must get done every day so I’m certain I actually get things done. 
Here is a quick example of how those who do choose to “go with the flow” can get ensnared in daylong nothingness.

The scene is set with a genetic and familial tribal right to “go with the flow” with the following characters:

80-year-old mother/grandmother/great-grandmother
55-year-old sister/daughter
23-year-old niece/daughter/granddaughter
8-year-old

Now, in that scenario of egos, “going with the flow” means you have four conflicting ideas of when something should get done — which means nothing gets done — and so you have four people wandering around each other waiting for nothing to happen all day and it always does.
If someone else in the midst of the four raises suggestion for a time to leave, or a time to eat, or a plan for an activity for later in the evening, that person is shouted down by the others as being uncooperative, rigid, “New York” and mean.
“Go with the flow,” they purr — as if it is soothing to wander around the flatlands with no purpose at all.
When you’re stuck in a river of four flowing egos — you either fight the tide or you drown with the rest of them.
In the above example of personalities — the 8-year-old pretty much set the standard of the day with tantrums and demands and bad behavior that was unwittingly rewarded by the other flow-ers in order to continue their breathless stasis between the childhood chanting for attention.

8 Comments

  1. I think the only time when “going with the flow” really works well is when you can’t decide what to do for fun on a Sunday. When you’re trying to get something serious accomplished, it is certainly not the time. 🙂

  2. It sometimes takes pre-planning.
    This is how ‘going with the flow’ goes in my mind.
    Two people go out for a stroll, deciding to ‘go with the flow’ for a fun afternoon.
    They come across a street festival, of which they were not aware, and get on the ferris wheel.
    They spot a face painting booth and get their faces painted.
    Nothing planned, plenty ‘o’ fun. Of course, that’s just my understanding of going with the flow. 🙂

  3. I get that definition, but there are people in the world who live that example 7 days a week and the result is nothing gets done but impulsive fun, Gordon! I have yet to meet someone who uses “go with the flow” when it comes to work or achieving a time-critical task.

  4. Hi David,
    I was never a “go with flow” person, I am still not.
    I agree, “go with a flow” is basically directionless, doesn’t help us reaching anywhere.

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