One of the fundamental choices we each make in each moment is to live in that state of fight or in the state of flow. As I’ve written before (in this article and in At the Heart of Leadership):
- FIGHT is characterized by power where the goal is the be right OVER another; emotions such as anger are signals of power and sorrow are signals of weakness.
- In FLOW being right or wrong are less important; the goal is to connect in a purposeful, significant way.
The film Avatar illustrates this choice on several levels. Perhaps the most vivid moment is when protagonists Jake Sully and Neytiri meet. Sully is in danger on an alien world and, as night falls, he makes a torch/spear and attacks the threatening wildlife. Forest savant Neytiri saves him and throws his torch into a puddle, plunging them into darkness. At first Sully is… not thrilled… by this “help.” But eventually he sees differently.
In the darkness, Sully finds something else — the luminescent beauty of the world is revealed. While he’s in the FIGHT mode he’s cut off from the world around him, literally blinded by his own weaponry. Forced to give that up, he begins a journey to encounter the world a different way.
We all do this — when we’re in FIGHT we tell ourselves that’s the only way, and we’re fighting for our survival. Often actually creating more peril, but it’s all we can see. It takes a leap of faith (or a push from someone else) to drop into FLOW. There’s a huge AHA! as we see that where there used to be one option, now there’s the liberty of choice.