In our noisy connected age, the idea of not promoting yourself sounds counter-intuitive to say the least. How can we stand out in a highly-competitive age if we don’t let everyone know about the wonderful skills and talents we have even if they primarily consist of looking great in a selfie?
Laozi’s advice is that there’s no point it following the herd because no matter how hard you try you’ll never be able to catch up with it. Stay calm, set your own course, and focus on achieving your own goals. That way you will never have any need to compete with anyone else. Instead, everyone will probably end up trying compete with you.
To yield is to remain whole.
To bend is to stay straight.
To be empty is to become full.
To be exhausted is to be renewed.
To have little is to gain.
To have too much is to become troubled.
That is why the sage embraces the one and sets an example to the world.
He does not show off and therefore shines.
He does not promote himself and is therefore revered.
He does not boast and is therefore honored.
He does not seek glory and therefore endures.
Because he does not contend,
Nobody in the world contends with him.
The ancient saying “to yield is to remain whole” is indeed true.
When you are whole, all things will come to you.