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  • Rodney Lee Mills

Like Water

Bruce Lee is one of the greatest martial artists of all time. It wasn’t just his physical prowess that made him so formidable. His knowledge of the human body and his ability to maximize its potential was of equal measure. As you scan across his fan base, you will find those who specialized in martial arts, those who love action films, or those of a philosophical bent. My mother was one of those fans and she loved Bruce Lee so much that my middle name is “Lee” in honor of him.

As I stated earlier, Bruce Lee had a philosophical side that always challenged the mindsets of his students and those that followed him from a distance. One of my favorite quotes of Lee’s is when he said:

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

I love this quote because in all instances, the water never changes what it is. Instead, its shape is transformed to fit the situation. It can also be as subtle as a drip and as powerful as a crashing wave. So what other lessons can we derive from water and its properties? I would like to share with you some of my perspectives. These perspectives are meant to inspire and motivate you to be “like water” and to never lose who you are as a person. You can be flexible and still leverage the gifts already inside of you.


As stated earlier, water adjusts to its container but never loses its identity. This is the perfect example of flexibility. This example reminds me that no matter the situation, my ability to adjust to my environment allows me to serve in many capacities and therefore others.

Maybe you find yourself in situations where you thought at first glance, would be uncomfortable or that you could not “fit in.” Maybe you are an introvert who feels uncomfortable in group settings. Maybe your lifestyle is unlike those around you so instead of engaging with others, you prefer to stay in the comforts of your home or familiar surroundings.

We often stay away from these situations for fear of what those uncomfortable situations will do to us. For some of us, the idea of feeling uncomfortable is enough to keep us away. For others, the fear of the possible transformation that will occur when we place ourselves in these situations is almost a badge of honor that we wear because we are sticking to our “values” which allows us to justify our distance.

But when it is all said and done, what regrets will we have? Will we regret the moments missed and relationships never gained? Like water, we don’t have to lose who we are just because our environment is different. Each new situation gives us an opportunity to serve others. So be like water and don’t avoid a change in setting. Instead, adjust to the situation without losing who you are as a person. Those around you (both known and unknown) will benefit from you stepping out and just being you.


I just love the persistence of water. It never allows its surroundings or its obstacles from stopping its persistence. It constantly keeps moving even when it seems it is not. It is always trying to find a way around or through its obstacles.

Whether you have stood by a river or a creek, the one thing you will notice is that the water is persistent. The water in that river or creek is always in motion and flows downstream and never stops even when it comes into contact with a solid surface. At that time, it will seek to get around its obstacles until it is fully contained. Even when it is contained, it is constantly seeking for a way out. Water’s persistence against its obstacles never ceases to apply pressure and it is always seeking a way through, around, over, or under its obstacles.

Are you persistent like water? When you set a goal and you come up against an obstacle, what do you do? Do you continue to press forward and try to find a way around or through your obstacles? Do you get discourage and walk away? Like water, have you looked at every way around your obstacles? So many of us give up before we even try. At the first sign of trouble or resistance, we sometimes find ourselves giving up. I want to encourage you to not give up, be persistent and find a way. You will be glad you did.


Water has many uses and benefits. From the comfort it gives us as we stand under a warm shower to the refreshment it gives us as we down a cold glass of water. Water has countless uses. It can also be very powerful. From a powerful tidal wave to the ability to power a locomotive; water and its properties has the ability to create great comfort and immense power. The difference between these abilities is in how it is being used.

We are a lot like water. How we choose to use our position, authority, abilities, and relationships can either create comfort for others or just the opposite if we don’t learn to control the power we have through our position, authority, abilities, and relationships.

Like water, we can use the gift of speech to bless and curse someone. Like water, we can use our strength to hurt someone physically but also use it to save someone from physical harm. We all have the capacity to use the talents and abilities given to us. It is up to us to determine if we will use those talents and abilities for the benefit of others and the greater good.


Water’s most important quality is that it gives life. Without it, no living thing can survive. Our body is made up of about 60% water and the earth is even greater at around 70%. Plants cannot survive without water and our bodies are unable to function and even starts to breakdown when it is not getting its necessary daily requirements to operate.

As stated earlier, how water is applied can also cause death. Too much water can be just as bad as not enough of it. We can drown in water but we can also be revived by it if we are dehydrated. Water has the ability to sustain life and take it but when you think of water, the first thought probably isn’t death but LIFE.

So if you look at your own life, do you see yourself giving life? I don’t mean giving life as in giving birth. But just like water allows flowers to be nourished and therefore grow, do you see yourself giving life to other people’s lives? Do you provide motivation and inspiration to help others to be “fed” and grow? Do you do this for everyone you come into contact with and not only to those close to you? You see when it rains, it provides water to everything. I believe we should be the same way. Why just give motivation and inspiration to those we know? If you are not already doing this let’s start today and try to bring motivation and inspiration to everyone we meet.


I could go on and on about the life lessons that can be learned from water but I think you get the point. Remember that water never changes what it is. Instead, its shape is transformed to fit the situation. Learn to be flexible to your surroundings and don’t let your fears prevent you from providing motivation and inspiration to others. When you set your goals, be persistent. Don’t let obstacles get in your way because if you stay persistent, you will eventually find your way around, over, or through those obstacles. Most importantly, use your talents and abilities to “give life” to others. We have all been blessed with special talents and abilities. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason so don’t ignore the people and situations that have been placed in your life. Use your talents and abilities to give life. If you do, you are like water my friend.

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