Be Water

Be Water

Be Water

To quote the late Bruce Lee, martial artist, actor philosopher and filmmaker, “Empty your mind.  Be formless. Shapeless. Like water.  You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup.  You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle.  You put water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.  Water can flow, or it can crash.  Be water, my friend.”  The Pierre Berton Show, 1971.

There are many other variations of this quote that Bruce Lee used to explain himself further.  The main concept with any of his related quotes and variations is all about water being flexible. This can refer to martial arts, life, movement, mind and body, etc.  The relevance here is flexibility.  When a person is flexible they are more able to adapt, think more clearly and can be determined without being stubborn.

I can relate his water references specifically to the sale process of a motel or accommodation business (which I guess can relate to anything being sold really).  What happens or what is the result if a buyer and seller are both rigid and not flexible in regard to matters relating to the sale process?  It collapses.  Many of my articles over the years have referred to parties to a contract (or lease) acting reasonably.  This is more about being pliable or flexible to the various situations (many of which cannot be predicted) that unfold throughout a sale and/or contractual process.

Being flexible does not mean giving in when there is a non-agreement on something.  It means being willing to consider alternatives to get from point A to point B.  If we were all hard headed and not willing to bend, how would we ever move forward or improve a situation?

So, what happens when there is no flexibility shown by one or both parties?  A stalemate I guess, and that gets us nowhere.  If there is a part of the process that one party is adamant about and the other can find it within themselves to agree to, then perhaps there is a compromise on another matter to help make it more palatable to accept.  Trying to point score or win every point, argument or item, is not being like water and is not going to result in a positive outcome for anyone.

I simple thing I have learned over the years is not to bring future matters into the equation, as it will only create more drama.  A simple example of this is where a seller has plans after settlement and set dates to commence these plans.  They may have jumped ahead and purchased a house to move to.  Or perhaps another business to start running.  Or perhaps booked an overseas holiday, etc.  That is great and all, but all those dates that will be a party to these things, will simply add pressure into the current situation.

“We don’t care if the bank is not ready to settle, we are not extending the settlement date as we are booked to fly out the very next day!”  This is not the buyer’s fault, that the bank will not be ready or that the seller jumped the gun and booked a holiday.  That trip should not have been booked until after settlement was finalised.  All this has done is bring an outside future matter into the current sale process and caused a potential problem.  I have seen this sort of thing result in contracts ultimately being terminated.  Where it didn’t get to this extreme point, at the very least the relationship between the parties going forward soured unnecessarily.

The involvement of any third party beyond the buyer and seller will bring challenges and potential delays to a transaction.  These delays cannot be foreseen or accounted for prior to.  The buyer’s or seller’s bank not being ready to settle.  Any legal documents that have not been completed fully, etc, etc.  The more people involved, the more opportunity for a delay, for any unforeseen reason.

A big issue within the sale process is where any party who is involved in any way (not only a party to the contract), having no respect for contractual obligations.  Perhaps they do not understand the importance of these obligations on the buyer and seller.  Perhaps they don’t care because they are just playing their role in the process and live by the mantra “it will be done in the fullness of time.”  A most frustrating attitude for anyone who is working hard to get a job done.

This is where “being like water” is very relevant to a business sale situation.  Where third parties, not a party to the contract itself, don’t respect the contractual obligations of those they are involved with.  Hence why the buyer and seller need to be flexible, not only with each other, but with the process and accepting or working within the requirements, issues and flaws of others involved.

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