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Diane Dreher's Tao Leadership Blog

Respect and Harmony

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 49

 

To say there's a lot of disrespectful behavior in our world would be an understatement., Too many people react mindlessly, driven by fear, defensively shaming and blaming others, which not only builds walls of resentment but keeps us from solving our problems.

 

Lao-Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching during the warring states period in ancient China, a time of massive social and political upheaval. His courageous response to the chaos around him was respect—for self, others, and the cycles of nature.

 

The wisdom of Tao is pragmatically idealistic. Instead of surrendering to fear and reinforcing the violent status quo defining life as an endless power struggle, Lao-Tzu realized that our response to a situation makes all the difference. "What is"—the current state of things—does not need to continue, for the Tao teaches that life is a dynamic process.

 

The Tao reminds us that we are not passive victims of circumstance. "What is" can become "What may be." We can begin a new cycle of creation at any time by acknowledging and redirecting the energies around us.

 

As a Tao leader, you, too, can respond to a difficult situation with courage and resourcefulness. Respecting the dynamic process of life, you can discover innovative solutions and create greater harmonies by responding with respect for yourself, for others, and the process of life itself.

 

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The Power of Trust

The Tao Te Ching tells us:

 

Who gives from the heart to all the world?
Only one who leads with Tao.

 

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 77

 

In this competitive, often confusing, world that emphasizes aggressive sales tactics and short-term economic gain, many leaders rise and fall with the cycles of change.

 

Those who rise above this competitive struggle draw upon deeper principles, inspiring trust and commitment in the people around them. As James Kouzes and Barry Posner found in their classic management research with nearly two thousand managers in North America, Mexico, Western Europe, Asia, and Australia, what people most desire in a leader is credibility, the ability to trust their leader--an atmosphere of mutual respect (Kouzes & Posner, 1993).

 

Without respect, life is a crazy roller-coaster ride from one crisis to the next. Relationships remain superficial and some people in power lack empathy, using other people as a means to an end.

 

Unless we can work together respectfully, the alchemy of cooperation and creativity cannot exist. Without the trust that respect engenders, institutions stagnate, for people lack the will to reach out and explore the unknown.

 

What about you? How can you nurture greater trust around you, leading with heart and affirming the inclusive and compassionate spirit of Tao? Think of one small thing you can do today—take a deep breath and be mindfully present, slow down and listen, or show your appreciation for at least one person today.

 

Together, we can make a difference. Small actions add up. As the Tao reminds us, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 64). I encourage you to take that step today.

 

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