The following is an excerpt from The 50th Law, adapted for HuffPost.
In the present there is constant change and so much we cannot control. If you try to micro-manage it all, you lose even greater control in the long run. The answer is to let go and move with the chaos that presents itself to you -- from within it, you will find endless opportunities that elude most people. Don't give others the chance to pin you down; keep moving and changing your appearances to fit the environment. If you encounter walls or boundaries, slip around them. Do not let anything disrupt your flow.
As infants, we were surrounded by many things that were unfamiliar and unpredictable -- people acting in ways that did not make sense, events that were hard to figure out. This was the source of great anxiety. We wanted the world around us to be more familiar. What was not so predictable became associated in our minds with darkness and chaos, something to dread. Out of this fear, a desire was born deep inside of us to somehow gain greater control over the people and events that eluded our grasp. The only way we knew how to do this was to grab and hold, to push and pull, exerting our will in as direct a manner as possible to get people to do what we wanted. Over the years, this can become a lifelong pattern of behavior -- more subtle as an adult, but infantile at heart.
Every individual we come across in life is unique, with his or her own energy, desires and history. But wanting more control over people, our first impulse is generally to try to push them into conforming to our moods and ideas, into acting in ways that are familiar and comfortable to us. Every circumstance in life is different, but this elicits that old fear of chaos and the unknown. We cannot physically make events more predictable, but internally we can create a feeling of greater control by holding on to certain ideas and beliefs that give us a sense of consistency and order.
This hunger for control, common to all of us, is the root of so many problems in life. Staying true to the same ideas and ways of doing things makes it that much harder for us to adapt to the inevitable changes in life. If we try to dominate a situation with some kind of aggressive action, this becomes our only option. We cannot give in, or adapt, or bide our time -- that would mean letting go of our grip and we fear that. Having such narrow options makes it hard to solve problems. Forcing people to do what we want makes them resentful -- inevitably they sabotage us or assert themselves against our will. What we find is that our desire to micromanage the world around us comes with a paradoxical effect -- the harder we try to control things in our immediate environment, the more likely we are to lose control in the long run.
Most people tend to think of these forms of direct control as power itself -- something that shows strength, consistency, or character. But in fact the opposite is the case. They are forms of power that are infantile and weak, stemming from that deep-rooted fear of change and chaos. Before it is too late you need to convert to a more sophisticated, fearless concept of power -- one that emphasizes fluidity and flow.
Life has a particular pace and rhythm, an endless stream of changes that can move slowly or quickly. When you try to stop this flow mentally or physically by holding on to things or people, you fall behind. Your actions become awkward because they are not in relation to present circumstances. It is like moving against a current as opposed to using it to propel you forward.
The first and most important step is to let go of this need to control in such a direct manner. This means that you no longer see change and chaotic moments in life as something to fear, but rather as a source of excitement and opportunity. In a social situation in which you want the ability to influence people, your first move is to bend to their different energies. You see what they bring and you adapt to this, then find a way to divert their energy in your direction. You let go of the past way of doing things and adapt your strategies to the ever-flowing present.
As part of this new concept, you are replacing the old stalwart symbols of power -- the rock, the oak tree, etc. -- with that of water, the element that has the greatest potential force in all of nature. Water can adapt to whatever comes its way, moving around or over any obstacle. It wears away rock over time. This form of power does not mean you simply give in to what life brings you and drift. It means that you channel the flow of events in your direction, letting this add to the force of your actions and giving you powerful momentum.