Assertive Flowing

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli


My almost2-½-year-old son is very clear about what he wants and doesn’t want. Even better, he’s not shy about letting us know. Or anyone for that matter. Tell him he can’t play with the I-Pad anymore or that it’s time to come inside and you’ll get an exaggerated “Awwww-uh!” Leave him out of something he thinks he should be a part of? You’re sure to hear a “Hey! HEEEYYYY!!!!!”  He’s been known to say “I’m feeling frustrated!” or “I was playing with that!” or the ever-famous “I’ll just be right back…”. Last night as he was falling asleep I could hear him softly singing to himself: “I knew you were trouble when you walked in…” Indeed.

I love his tenacity. And I also have no idea where he gets it. When I have a “toy” taken away or feel left out of something, you’d be more likely to hear me say things like “Oh, that’s okay!” or “Okay, cool!” or see me simply shrug my shoulders and move on. Oh you want that? Okay, take it. No problem. I’m good over here. Really. Just fine.

I talked about this a few weeks back in “Game ON”, but watching my son’s fearlessness in asserting himself in any situation further reminds me of the power of simply stating what you want. When you want it.


The other equally brilliant part of my son’s tactics is that he doesn’t hold on to anything—he asserts his opinion or his feelings, but then is able to move on quickly, whether or not he actually gets what he wants. He doesn’t linger over a result that wasn’t what he hoped for— he simply adapts and finds something else to enjoy. Most situations for him become a “win-win” rather than a “win-lose,” as he easily just goes with the flow.

I swear this combination of asserting and flowing must be some sort of Zen Master Technique. “Assertive Flowing”: I think most of us just get one or the other right. We either assert ourselves easily and often, but then have a hard time letting go and going with the flow, or we easily go with the flow but then have a hard time asserting ourselves. It’s rare to find a master of both.

So, while I may have to utilize some ways to express myself other than “HEYYYYY-uh!!!”, I still think I’m going to study my son for some tips on how to master the incredible, Zen-Master balance of his method.

How can you practice the art of “assertive flowing”?     

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.