Friday, May 27, 2011

Between A Rock And A Soft Place

Barbara: The other day a few of us were discussing the personality traits of a certain character in our screenplay when a colleague suddenly referenced the philosophy of rock logic versus water logic. Who’d’a thunk this innocent observation would trigger a whole mindblowing epiphany!

I’d never heard of the rock/water logics, so my colleague nutshelled it for me. (PS: This is the kind of stuff I eat up. I LOVE Rubik’s cubing the human mind.) In case you’re like me and you’ve never heard of this philosophy, let me try and nutshell. And if you are familiar with it, I’d love to hear your take.

The idea of rock and water logic was introduced by a guy named Edward de Bono, a respected “great thinker”. This is his official website (I’d say the great thinker could use a great designer, but I digress), and this is a good summary of his thesis. The way my colleague described it, neither logic was better than the other, they just are. You are either a strongly confident “rock”, generally unmoving, sure and certain in the one best choice. Water logic is flowing, adaptable, conforms to its environment. Both logics have their place in our lives. On a team, it’s good to have the conviction of the rock and the flexibility of the water.

(If you read Edward de Bono’s work, he actually says that rock logic is “traditional” thinking. He definitely urges people to think outside the rock, to embrace “lateral thinking”. Too bad my whole epiphany catapulted off the notion that all my relationship problems could be traced to this basic but fundamental difference and that I just had to accept it.)

I can say with utter conviction that I am a water logic person. It can be a wonderful quality, sure. It’s great to believe there are a myriad of solutions to every problem, not just one (or worse, none). BUT I can also say that my adaptability makes me endlessly accommodating—a trait that can bite me in the butt when it comes to any kind of teamwork. I can see the merit of my own choices with utter clarity, but I can also see the merit of EVERY ONE OF YOURS. I’ve been accused of being a pushover more than once, but really, it’s because it ALL SEEMS POSSIBLE.

Also, I’ve butted heads with more than a few rock-logicians in my time. Oh, how they stand firm in their resolve, a resounding “no” to every one of my suggestions. It can be frustrating. It can be exhausting to always, always have to flow around them.

So it was with some relief that I realized we were two logics with the same goal—to get the job done, be it an actual job or an emotional conundrum, in the best possible way. We just have two very different approaches. Both ways do have merit. I’ve had to learn to adopt a bit of rock logic, to decide what I really really believe in so I can defend my ideas when they need defending.

Sometimes the water has to collect in a pool against that rock, and sometimes the rock has to let itself disengage and be carried with the flow.

I know I am, but what are you???

Deb: Well, Barb, I think you know what I am. I am water logic too. And frankly I think it is very unusual for two water logics to accomplish anything as a team.  But we do, don’t we, Barb?

I may have been a bit of a rock when I was younger, a stone if you will.  But over the years I yielded to the flow, which I think is my true path.

When Barb and I work we are all about the compromise. And I mean ALL ABOUT THE COMPROMISE. Does it always serve the project? I don’t know. Does it always serve our joy in doing the project? OH YEAH! So we flow and we flow and we love every minute of it. 

So we … Go with the Flow––You KNEW I had to say it!


  1. Hummmm. You have now got me woundering if I am a stone or if I am water.

    I wounder if you can be a little bit of both or if there is a middle that I can be. I guess in a way I am kind of like a stone just because I am a strong willed women and don't let anyone get in my way of that. And then again I am kind of like water because I am a flexiable person. And I am more open to things and always wanting to try new things.

    So I guess I could be both in a way. Maby that's not such a bad thing though. I mean I do have the best of both worlds so maby that not such a bad thing. Who knows may I fit in in the middle somewhere. If only I could figure out what that middles is.


  2. I was wondering the same thing as above. In some ways I am definitely the rock and in others the water. Do you have to be either one or the other? I like the balance of the two. Taking a stand and believing and not letting go, be firm and stick to your guns. But also be the peace maker who travels with the flow trying to bring everyone in for a taste but releasing them to travel their own journey. Now as I think about it I am more the water probably as I aged I started to just flow but there is apart of me that stands very firm and sometimes that rock just gets carried away.

  3. Oh, I would absolutely say you two are natural waters. Flow can be strong too! You are both so open -- and I think that's the mark of liquid gold :)

  4. Well,thank you I am glad to know what I am now


  5. I'm both so I guess I'm mud.

    I'm very rock about some things,a diamond, 10 on the Mohs scale. Examples include:
    1. My son - I'm a mamabear.
    2. My absolute contempt, loathing, revulsion, hatred of bystander apathy (the Genovese Effect)
    3. Participating (as a Christian) in the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam
    4. I am pro-life.

    Things I have become more water about over the years:
    1. How to live as a Christian.
    2. The whole people being gay thing.

    Yes, I'm a rock about many things, but I'm water about how I handle my rocks. One biggie is that I've learned to be less scared of people who are the opposite kind of rock from me. I never hated them or anything. I just shied away from them because they frightened me and I couldn't understand them. I've opened up a lot.

    By nature, I tend to be resourceful, creative, and flexible. I'm good at doing a lot with a little. That's water.

    Making a difference is absolutely rock. But, that can be anything from getting filthy dirty helping roof an elderly, disabled man's house to teaching a series of classes on interfaith community to a group of older church ladies to wearing pantyhose *shudder* for a cushy meeting to bum a grant of several thousands dollars worth of medical equipment off a healthcare bigwig. The rock is I've got to do something. But, I surf the wave of what needs to be done and how to do it.

    I've had to get more watery over the past few years as my personal resources have disappeared. Used to be that if, for example, I heard that Angel's mom couldn't pay the heating bill on her trailer, I could just go up to the electrical co-op and anonymously pay her bill for her (I knew the co-op clerks). Now, when I'm presented situations where the burden is laid on my heart, I have to gather accomplices. I am less able to help on my own. Now finds me asking, "Can you please help me help so-and-so with such-and-such?"

    I've discovered there's a lot more fun and joy in that second path.

    (Oh yeah, and, I would MUCH rather be hammering roofing shingles than having to wear pantyhose and heels!)

    Why I am mud:
    Rock = If God dumps a situation in my lap and my conscience/heart says, "Tag, you're it. Cowgirl up," I am compelled. I can't turn away. Barbara, Madge, and a few on here will remember the Christmas Elf Conspiracy as an example of this. I love, love, LOVE going on adventures like this. I feel so alive!

    But, Water = If I'm with a group that's brainstorming ideas about how to help in a situation, I'm flexible about having my ideas used or not. As long as we are DOING something, making that difference for the better, that's what's important. If I say, "Let's see if we can get Hay's to donate some helium for balloons," and someone else says, "No, balloons won't work. We should ask Lunsford's for carnations," I'm just OK, whatever, as long as the mission is getting accomplished.

    Oh, and, it's not enough to me to have Plan A and Plan B. I'm more of a Plans A-Z kind of girl. Backup plans for my backup plans. LOL I think in flow charts and if-then statements. My brain is a spaghetti of tentacles always reaching, touching, and intertwining. I guess that makes me water.

    I also wonder if it's more rock or water to be thin skinned. I have to work hard at not letting my feelings get hurt. (I've got a decent poker face, but that doesn't mean the daggers aren't piercing my heart.)

    Then again, maybe I'm not water or rock. Maybe I'm Silly Putty! :)

  6. Yeah, Rigel, you are harder to peg. I feel like I've seen both sides -- just as you describe it. And interestingly, I think de Bono isn't laying down absolutes (which is how I first interpreted it) as much as he's trying to open up the possibility that there are other ways of thinking at any given time.

    But my favourite line? "I've discovered there's a lot more fun and joy in that second path." Story of my life, baby!

  7. I guess I'm paper and scissors, because I look for creative solutions.

    Speaking of rock and water...years ago I heard a Native American proverb about parenting which I will paraphrase badly for you. It says that the parent is the rock, and the child is the wave, constantly thrashing itself against us over and over, trying to figure out the boundaries, or a way around us, until all our edges are softened.

  8. lol, Hollye! I was waiting for paper and scissors to enter the fray! Bravo!

    But, man, you took my breath away with that proverb. How perfect is that?!

  9. Barbara -



  10. If it is a matter of choice I would always choose to use water logic and I think that I do most often.
    It seems to me a much stronger way of living. Water won't be stopped by a rock it will simply flow around or even carry that rock with it. A rock cannot move of it's own accord. As Leonardo Da Vinci said "water is the driving force of nature"
    I think two people who think using water logic is a great combination, together you can be a stronger whole. Two rocks together are still simply two rocks.

  11. Wow, Erin, I think you quoted de Bono exactly with "Two rocks ares till simply two rocks". It does stand to reason, huh?!

    Rigel: Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock! lol!!

  12. I'm a tree. It took a long time to become one, though, flexible enough to move with the current and the breeze, able to bend without breaking, and able to snap back to center and hold firm when necessary.

    But before I started my Buddhist practice in earnest, I was a rock. A very sharp, jagged, frustrated rock.

  13. Oooh, Kelly, LOVE the tree!! Love that you got there from rock-world.

  14. this is a personal observation in regard to water versus rock: I think of myself as a multi colored, multi surfaced rock tumbling and bouncing through the watery stream of life. Sometimes I get lodged up against a larger rock, a stuck in place rock, but the flow of the water dislodges me and I once again roll with the current. The sound of the stream is what is attractive to me; the tinkling, laughing sound of freedom, freedom to move on, freedom to stay in place, freedom to temporarily float in a still pool, and then freedom to catch that current and move on to whatever comes next.

  15. I love this personal observation. It is Poetry in Motion :)

  16. I'm always suspicious of personality typifying, I never seem to fit anywhere. As a child I'd say I was always the water, I was easily swayed by everyone and eager to please. Now, I try to be less of a pushover and I guess more 'rock-like' but I'm still flexible. I tend to try and listen and see all sides of a situation (water-like) and then make up my mind and stick with it (rock-like). If someone challenges my view, I'll consider it, but if I disagree then I disregard it and stick with my view... so I guess I'm both at the same time. I'm becoming less timid and less afraid to take a stand for what I believe in, especially when it matters most, but still have the flexibility to consider other points of view and accomodate others.

  17. My mother on the other hand is an absolute water type. She works with the elderly and they often expect her to drop everything for them, even ringing her late at night or on weekends, or expecting her to come to them on her day off, or asking her to see them the next day, even though she's booked up for weeks in advance. I'm constantly telling her to stand up for herself and be more blunt, telling them they just have to wait. She accomodates them a lot of the time, but if their demands cross the line, she does manage to rock up a bit and tell them in the nicest possible way (diplomacy is her forté) that they have to wait, whereas I would tell them to piss off (diplomacy is not as much my forté haha)

  18. I am water. Water can move and flow around obstacles, but it can also force obstacles to move with it. Water can be soft and comforting or hard and cold. Water has many personalities. Steam, Ice, rain, snow...
    Rock not so, a rock is a rock. But there are a lot of different rocks in this world and they do give us a good foundation for life. Some are more precious than others, but all are needed.

    Pamela Jo

  19. Oh and Barb, the great thinker defiantly needs a great designer. He just kind of yells out at you from his page...

  20. Erin, to your point about "personality typifying", I think we've all gotten caught up in it, but I do think de Bono's idea was to address different ways of thinking as opposed to personality absolutes (which was my initial mistake anyway). But I do think your modus operandi sounds pretty solid! And your mom sounds like a "gem"!

    TJL, I love the variations on the water theme here too. All relevant. (and re his site: didn't I tell you??!)

  21. Oops, I typed Erin and meant Elle!! Sorry, Elle!!

  22. Barbara: I am deeply, deeply offended... just kidding :D Call me anything you like, just don't call me late to dinner! ;)

  23. lol, I was soooo worried, Elle!! Thanks for letting me off the hook. Oh, and dinner's at 7 ;)

  24. Haha well I might be a bit late - the flight from home will take about 18 hours haha


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