According to my studies in trichology, every head has a unique pattern of hair follicles with a "grain" or direction of growth. The pattern is determined by your genetics and isn't alterable. Each hair is an extrusion of protein from each of your follicles in much the same way toothpaste is squeezed from a tube. In the case of a head-of-hair, every tube can be pointed in its own direction.
For example: A cow-lick is a circular pattern of hair growth familiar to many which can turn to the right or left and be centred on the scalp, more or less.
If you wash your hair and brush/comb it straight when wet, the pattern will be much less evident; yet, it is still there. The shaft of each hair has been temporarily bent into the direction you want.
"Fighting" with your hair means that you are bending/forcing your hair in a direction contrary to its natural tendency. A "good" cut uses your natural hair direction along with variable length to achieve your individuality.
Identifying each person's unique hair growth pattern is a trait of a good hair-care professional. Working with the tendency of the hair to grow in its own pattern allows some hair styles to need little or no care to maintain. A good hair cut requires the minimum of "hold."
If you can form and hold your hair in its desired shape as it is drying, you will be able to achieve the shape you wish without any additional materials, optimally for the longest time. This means that you must start with washed, wet hair and apply heat to it as you comb/brush it for the full duration that it takes to completely dry. In effect, you are heat-forming your hair. It is similar to putting wet hair into a roller and drying it in that shape. Usually, this is done with an optional starch solution to more permanently hold the style.