Tag Archives: Daodejing on leadership

Daodejing Chapter 17: the best leader

Daodejing Chapter 17

「太上,不知有之;其次,親而譽之;其次,畏之;其次,侮之;信不足焉,有不信焉。悠兮其貴言。功成、事遂,百姓皆謂:我自然。」
The best leader is one whose presence is unknown to his people;
The next best is one who is loved and praised;
The next is one who is feared;
The worst is one who is despised;
When a leader has no trust in his people,
The people have no trust in him.
The best leader reflects and chooses his words carefully.
When his objective is achieved and the work is done,
The people all say, “We did it ourselves.”
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Daodejing Chapter 8: like water

Daodejing water 

「上善若水,水善利萬物而不爭,處眾人之所惡,故幾於道。居善地,心善淵、與善仁、言善信、正善治、事善能、動善時。夫唯不爭,故無尤」
The highest good is like water;
Water brings good to all things without contending with them;
It settles in places that people disdain;
Thus, it’s close to the Dao.
In choosing your home, it’s the location that counts;
In cultivating your mind, it’s depth that counts;
In dealing with others, it’s goodness that counts;
In speaking, it’s good faith that counts;
In governing, it’s order that counts;
In handling affairs, it’s ability that counts;
In action, it’s timing that counts.
By not contending with others,
You won’t be singled out for reproach.
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Daodejing on Leadership: Bowls and Bellows

If I was asked to choose one word to describe what the Daodejing is about, I would have no hesitation at all in saying “leadership”. Despite the ambiguous, some might say mystical, language of the first chapter, Laozi is already beginning to lay out the principles and processes that a leader should follow in order to foster a stable and harmonious society and opening “the gateway to its (the Way’s) whole essence”. Continue reading Daodejing on Leadership: Bowls and Bellows