Recently I have been studying 道德經 Dao de Jing also known as The Way of the Dao. This is the book that underwrites the philosophy of Taoism, which is not so much a religion as a way of life. I will leave the scholars, philosophists and historians continue to argue over the original date, author, and translations. What really interests me is the concept of the interpretations, in particular, one by Stephen Mitchell which can be found online here.

One particular passage I want to comment on today is Chapter 8 and how that can remain relevant in the professional development industry today. According to part one of this verse, the most supreme goodness or excellence is to be like water, which effortlessly nourishes and benefits all life while harming none. It can flow from the highest mountain to the deepest pit where no one would go. Therefore it is like the Dao.

Let’s think about that for a minute. While we search for the greatest, best version of ourselves do we stop to nourish the lives around us? Do others really benefit from your existence, or do they receive more harm? How do your words or silence affect those closest to you? What about your actions and inactions? When you strive to become a better person, do you even consider others or is the journey all about you? How about the flow of your life, when you are at a high point in life does it change the way you acknowledge or think about others compared to when you have fallen in the pit of despair? Does being in alignment with water, which doesn’t even think or have desires of its own, hold interest for you?

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