The Tao of Leadership

Tao Te Ching: 59

In caring for others and serving heaven,
There is nothing like using restraint.
Restraint beings with giving up one’s own ideas.
This depends on virtue being gathered in the past.
If there is a good store of virtue, then nothing is impossible.
If nothing is impossible, then there are no limits.
If a man knows no limits, then he is fit to be a ruler.
The mother principle of ruling holds good for a long time.
This is called having deep roots and a firm foundation.
The Tao of long life and eternal vision.

–trans. Jane English

A wood in autumn. The day is gray, but warm and close; golden leaves are falling onto the rich earth. It has just finished raining, and the scent of damp soil is intoxicating.

Captain’s Log

ire4.18.2010This vision came to me as I was meditating on these lines from the Tao Te Ching. Lao Tzu’s verse may seem to apply only to kings, rulers, and generals, and one might think that they would be of limited applicability today; but in fact every verse of the Tao Te Ching offers food for thought in many modern situations. Leadership is something that can be thrust upon you whether you want it or not. You may find yourself in charge of the team at work, or sharing responsibility as the leader of a family. But even if you live by yourself on a desert island, you are, unavoidably, the only captain of your soul.

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