January 21, 2018

Only the best survive

Tao Te ChingThere’s a reason why the classics are the classics – they’re good stuff.

We tend to favour the modern – and yes, we do need progressive ideas – but for some questions, the answers were plain 2,500 years ago. And often, there’s less clutter. Back then, we maybe had fewer distractions and more time to contemplate.

Worth paying some attention to then.

I’m thinking of the Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu, and Taoism, for example.

Here’s a line I particularly like…

“Someone must risk returning injury with kindness, or hostility will never turn to goodwill.”

The longer an idea survives the ravages of time, the more likely it is that it has value. Everything else has fallen by the wayside.

An obvious point perhaps…

But how often do you look back instead of ahead for the answer to a challenge? Might be worth doing so more often.

Sometimes, the old ones are the best.

The skilful use of time

Calendar dates from monday to sundayIn relating to other people, time can be an ally, if we use it right.

It’s more usual just to react to what happens in the present, transacting back and forth, hoping to make progress in the direction we want to go in, all in the here and now. We want to solve it this instant.

But as Abraham Lincoln says in the film, “Time has a way of thickening things.”

Sometimes it’s better to plant some seeds, or to train the vine a little, than go for the harvest straight off.

Or to move on from a problem, think of how things can be different tomorrow, next week, or next year. Imagine them solved now, and look back to the present. How significant (or not) do the issues seem from that distance?

As Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching 2,500 years ago, “This too shall pass”. Nothing, but nothing, lasts forever.

How do you use time in your relationships?

What we need to learn next might be “counter-intuitive”

Woman reflectingIn fact, it probably is.

We tend to dismiss new input which doesn’t fit with our view of things, simply because it doesn’t feel right. Our unconscious tells us something is “off”. “Intuitively” we know something else to be true.

Or do we?

Could be that the new information which feels counter-intuitive is the very thing we need to pay attention to; the very thing that is showing us our “worldview” needs an update; that the unconscious patterns we’re so used to following need rearranging.

Real growth in our knowledge begins with a little discomfort. The more important the learning, the more likely it will feel ill-fitting at first.

As Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching…

“Mystery is the doorway to understanding.”

Be open to the counter-intuitive. It can teach us a lot.

I’ve decided to make available the notes (6 pages) from a talk on leadership I gave recently. These include specific insights into how to get organisations to learn and change and increase their performance. You can get a copy here…


The importance of a specific goal, and a small step towards it

Mark BeaumontHe travelled 18,297 miles round the world on a bicycle and beat his target of 195 days by 8 hours. His target was in reality an arbitrary estimate based on 100 miles per day with an allowance for unforeseen difficulties. In so doing, he smashed the previous world record of 276 days by 81 days.

As adventurer Mark Beaumont said himself, there’s something to learn about the importance of setting a specific goal.

We might also infer something about the merit of focusing on your outcome rather than the “competition.”

Mark had more to say about having the right mindset, specifically focusing on short-term goals every day, like finding the right food and a suitable place to camp. The words of Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching seem to fit…

Take on difficulties while they are still easy;
Do great things while they are still small
The sage does not attempt anything very big,
And thus achieves greatness.