Diane Dreher's Tao Leadership Blog

The Tao is Now

February 28, 2018

The Tao Te Ching says:

The Tao leader
Lives fully in every moment.


Tao Te Ching, Chapter 14

Poets and artists have always known this lesson. The Tao moment is what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow”—being fully present in the here and now.

Years ago, I learned this lesson in aikido. When we were training, my teacher, Sunny Skys Sensei used to remind students of a Japanese expression: “Tadaima: only now.

We cannot respond well on the mat unless we leave our concerns outside and concentrate on training. Similarly, at work or at home, we cannot respond well unless we are fully present. But being present isn’t always easy when memories, worries, and obligations crowd our brains.

If you find your mind being crowded like this, try saying to yourself:

“Only Now.”
“I’m here now.”

Then take a deep centering breath and be here now,
Living fully in this precious moment.

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What is Your Centering Practice?

February 26, 2018

The Tao Te Ching asks:

Why do so many people rush about
Reactively losing their balance?
They give way to emotion,
Impatience and haste,
Thereby losing their center.


Tao Te Ching, Chapter 26

All the creative leaders I know of have one thing in common: a regular practice of centering.

Committing yourself to such a discipline unites you with artists, innovators, spiritual seekers, and visionary leaders throughout the ages. Many people, like Gandhi, have observed regular periods of silence. Others, like Jon Kabat-Zinn, have a regular meditation practice. Some go for runs, walks in the woods, or practice aikido, karate, yoga, or tai chi—exercises that combine body, mind, and spirit.

What is your centering practice?



Leadership Begins Within

February 20, 2018

Wise leaders are not reactive. Even in crisis, they maintain their inner balance.

However events may whirl around them,
They remain centered and calm.


Tao Te Ching, Chapter 26

For centuries, the wisdom of the East has taught the lesson of self-mastery. As the Tao tells us:

Analyzing others is knowledge,
Knowing yourself is wisdom.
Managing others requires skill.
Mastering yourself takes inner strength.
. . .
Be present, observe the process.
Stay centered and prevail.


Tao Te Ching, Chapter 33

Wise leaders stay centered in challenging times because of their commitment to a regular centering practice—which can be daily prayer, meditation, or a physical discipline like yoga, tai chi, or the martial arts.

What is your centering practice?

The Strength of Bamboo

February 17, 2018

Tags: Tao Te Ching, leadership, Flexibility

By Hosamwimel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons.
Leaders who follow the Tao have the strength of bamboo. Able to bend, blend with circumstances, adjust to change, and overcome adversity, they can meet any challenge with courage and compassion.

The Tao Te Ching tells us:

The grasses that grow are green and supple.
In death they are withered and sere.
Therefore, the rigid and inflexible
Belong to death.
The gentle and yielding
Are filled with life.


Tao Te Ching, Chapter 76

How can you be more flexible, using the strength of bamboo to meet a current challenge?

Maintaining Your Center

February 16, 2018

Tags: Tao Te Ching, leadership, Centering

In this world of challenge and change, a vital leadership skill is to stay centered, to remember our purpose. The Tao tells us:

Thirty spokes meet at the wheel’s axis;
The center space makes the wheel useful.
Form clay into a cup;
The center space gives it purpose.
Frame doors and windows for a house;
The openings make the house useful.

Therefore, purpose comes from what is there,
Because of what is not there.


Tao Te Ching, Chapter 11

What is Your Vision of Leadership?

February 15, 2018

Tags: Tao Te Ching, leadership, Carl Rogers

What is your vision of leadership? Believing that the best leaders empower others, humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers carried in his wallet this quote from the Tao Te Ching:

Of the best leaders,
People simply know who they are.
The next kind, people follow with admiration.
Worse are those that people fear.
The worst are scorned and ridiculed.

If leaders do not respect their people,
They will not be respected.

With the best of leaders,
When the work is done,
The project completed,
The people all say,
‘We did it ourselves.’


Tao Te Ching, chapter 17

The Tao's Lessons on Leadership for Today

February 14, 2018

Tags: Tao Te Ching, leadership, positive difference

The teaches that nothing exists in isolation, that we are part of an all-inclusive pattern.

It’s apparent from the daily news that we’re experiencing a crisis of leadership in the world around us. We can begin resolving this crisis by claiming the power of leadership within us. Beginning today, I’ll be posting insights from the Tao Te Ching to remind us that we have the power to create new possibilities in our world. For we are all potential leaders, and one step at a time, we can make a positive difference in the world.

A tree that grows beyond your reach
Springs from a tiny seed.
A building more than nine stories high
Begins with a handful of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles
Begins with a single step.


Tao Te Ching, chapter 64


Selected Works

Nonfiction
"A most helpful book for finding both your passion and your calling for life."
--Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., author of Love Is Letting Go of Fear
Spiritual
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--Minneapolis Star Tribune