Leadership and the Not-Raging Bull


My reading continues of The Way of Life: Lao Tzu, a new translation of the Tao Te Ching by R.B. Blakney.

Entries number 67 and 68 resonated especially deeply with me and my ever-evolving concept on what characteristics define a good leader.

Check it out:


A skillful soldier is not violent;

An able fighter does not rage;

A mighty conqueror does not give battle;

A great commander is a humble man.


You may call this pacific virtue;

Or say that it is mastery of men;

Or that it is rising to the measure of God,

or to the stature of the ancients.


Here’s its more complicated corollary:


Everywhere, they say the Way, our doctrine,

Is so very like detested folly;

But greatness of its own alone explains

Why it should be thus held beyond the pale,

If it were only orthodox, long since

It would have seemed a small and petty thing!


I have to keep three treasures well secured:

The first, compassion; next frugality;

And third, I say that never would I once

Presume that I should be the whole world’s chief.


Given compassion, I can take courage;

Given frugality, I can abound;

If I can be the world’s most humble man,

Then I can be its highest instrument.


Bravery today knows no compassion;

Abundance is, without frugality,

And eminence without humility:

This is the death indeed of all our hope.


In battle, ’tis compassion wins the day;

Defending, ’tis compassion that is firm:

Compassion arms the people God would save.


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