THE highest form of goodness is like water. Water knows how to benefit all things without striving with them.
It stays in places loathed by all men.
Therefore, it comes near the Tao.
In choosing your dwelling, know how to keep to the ground.
In cultivating your mind, know how to dive in the hidden deeps.
In dealing with others, know how to be gentle and kind.
In speaking, know how to keep your words.
In governing, know how to maintain order.
In transacting business, know how to be efficient.
In making a move, know how to choose the right moment.
If you do not strive with others,
You will be free from blame.
Water benefits all it touches, does your business,
Or are you better defined by who and how you fight?
A well made house doesn’t fight its surroundings,
A sound mind doesn’t fight with itself,
Being gentle and kind and minding your tongue
Will gain more friends than enemies both inside and out.
Keeping a calm and orderly business
Allows you to act efficiently and with timeliness and care
Competition is a distraction from your true business,
Which is to bring benefit to others.
Well, it’s rare to have an overt comment about business in the Tao Te Ching, so I was pretty happy to find this one. Even better to have one that specifically tells you what to do: be efficient. But how to achieve that efficiency? I suggest in reading this verse that acting in a thoughtful, kind and calm manner, with the goal of orderliness and benefit to others is the best way to go. I’ve worked for companies that were obsessed with competition, and I feel that it distracted them from their true calling.
Just do your thing. Do it better than before. Help people out along the way. That’s the way to gain in business, and in life.