Best career advice I ever got: be like water

Intuit can be a very intense (and rewarding) place to work. We have a strong company culture built on putting the customer at the center of everything we do and the pursuit of excellence proven by measurement. As a new employee, you will either love it and thrive or quit/get invited to leave very quickly. I knew I belonged here the minute I walked in the front door. Even still, long term success here can be elusive. I’ve been lucky enough to not only have some longevity here (seven years and counting), but to have helped usher in change along the way. This week I’ve mulled over what helped me get to the level of success I’ve had so far. Beyond the culture match, there is one piece of advice that stuck with me all these years that has really helped. That advice was to be like water.

Here’s what “be like water” means to me: instead of getting angry (I admit I sometimes do) and retaliatory¬†about obstacles to change , be always thinking about the next avenue to take if the current one doesn’t pan out. Keep coming at the same goal gently, continuously until you achieve it. It’s not a very “western” way to approach change. Most people I know have taken the “fire” approach to change: get angry, try to force acceptance, argue, bully. The truth is, that approach often does work in the short term. I’ve never seen it work longer than a year or two. People figure out a way to respond in kind eventually, which ends all chance of change occurring, because it’s associated with the person who started all the drama.

Being like water means you never give up, never quit trying. It’s also one of the more powerful forces on earth. Fire scorches on a superficial level, but things grow back. On the other hand, over time water breaks down mountains and clears valleys. If long term change is your goal I encourage you to be like water. Go ahead, clear the valley.