On Twitter last night, Dave Winer pointed back to a prescient* post he wrote in March of last year that includes a reference to the Chinese proverb:
“If you sit by the river long enough you will see the body of your enemy float by.”
When I read that proverb last year, my first thought was, “What if your enemy is sitting by the river also? Will it be long enough for them to see your body float by?”
I decided later, however, that the key to being the observer of the floating body (rather than being the floating body, itself) is to make sure your vantage point is, in the words of Ashford* and Simpson, Solid as a Rock.
Over the years, I’ve observed that many people confuse fads and evolving methods with those things that actually are important in life and work: The never-changing truths related to human nature, trust, respect, relationships and integrity, among others.
Dave and I share a constant amazement (bemusement or dismay might be better terms) whenever people become intoxicated over something they believe is new that we recognize as being built on a foundation that was created and set in motion decades ago, or longer. (And in many cases, if it involves the distribution of content, that foundation was something Dave played a significant role in creating and evolving.)
Yet without a solid rock vantage point on the side of that river, it is too easy to be swept away by the flow of buzzwords and platforms and new this-or-that presented to us as -killers of that which came before.
In reality, those of us who want to particpate in creating what the world (or our part of it) will be — and not just complain or react — will always be both in the river and on the bank, often at the same time.
When we’re in the river, we need a great understanding of the flow. When we’re on the bank, we need solid rocks.
Or maybe, like fly fishers, we need both at the same time.
*Prescient in many ways, but my reference is to the meltdown at TechCrunch.
**Until writing this post, I didn’t realize I missed the news that one-half of the prolific song writing couple, Nick Ashford, died last month after battling throat cancer. It’s astounding to see on the Songwriters Hall of Fame website the 17 pages listing all the songs they wrote for Motown artists, themselves and others. A sampling: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,””You’re All I Need To Get By,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” “Respect.”