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.
Water is one the most popular metaphors that Laozi used to evoke the workings of the Dao. It’s a source of good that sustains life in the darkest and remotest places where humans and other creatures fear to tread, and the humble manner in which it goes about its business provides a very potent example for you to follow.
Let your own life flow like water. Be true to yourself and follow your own path without comparing yourself to others or competing with them. Be willing to work with any person or problem that you encounter. Develop your thinking so that you can achieve clarity of action. Act for the benefit of all and speak with others openly and honestly. Stay disciplined and only take action at the right time.
In this way, you will not only help everyone around you flourish, but also become much more effective as a person and a leader.