If you have been reading my blog for a while you may know by now that I greatly appreciate quotes and the Chinese culture. After Confucius, I decided to pick up 11 quotes and teachings from Lao Tzu that will help us to be better professionals and leaders.

Who is Lao Tzu?

Lao Tse called 老子 (Lao Zi) in Chinese, is a famous Chinese philosopher from about 600 BC. He was born in China, in Henan and died at the age of 70 years old. He is also the founder of Taoism.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. “

Even if he is known to have lived a couple of thousands of years ago he knew that by always doing the same things and keeping the status quo won’t enable us to change the outcomes. If you realize that your current strategy or plan doesn’t work, you will have to tweak your strategy, make adjustments and surely follow an alternative road.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Dreaming big and having outstanding goals is great for both professionals and team leaders, however, one should be patient and be aware of the fact that each step, each action, each additional person you meet may contribute to your life and career?

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. “

This one differs from the popular belief that the leader has to be very charismatic, be popular and upfront on the stage. However, there are some leaders such as Rosa parks who quietly started a revolution by refusing to change seats.

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you. “

Being competitive and thriving for the best is great. But who is our worst enemy ? Ourselves not others. We should focus on improving our assets, minimizing our weaknesses and embracing our whole person. If you stop focusing on others, you will earn more respect and will be seen as an example to follow.

“Silence is a source of great strength. “

If you have been following my blog for a couple of weeks you may already know that I am all about observation and listening. I believe that too much noise shuts down the golden doors, stories and great insights. Just like I explained in my previous article about my experience at French army school Saint-Cyr Coetquidan, silence is a power on its own. If no one is listening just stop talking for a moment, the attention will be back and you can then proceed to give instructions or relay your message.

“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”

We may sometimes be tempted to get revenge on a colleague or boss who treated us badly or as unworthy, however staying true to our values is not a gift to this other person, it’s to avoid a dysfunctioning view of ourselves: how we should act VS how we act (Cognitive dissonance in psychology).

“The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has to his own.”

One of the main characteristics of a genuine leader is the ability to have compassion and giving to others. Throughout history, we have seen people fighting for various groups of people: black American, homeless, cancer patients and so on. Each of those leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King,  and Mother Theresa have given their whole life to help others. They made history and will be remembered.

“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”

One of the difficult aspects of leading a team, or even in life or at work is to gauge the degree we should be honest with one and another. Should we tell our boss his plan is not efficient? tell this colleague that she is being too noisy? or instead, say that “it is perfect” and that ” I love talking to you every time”. Lao Zi knows that sometimes telling the truth isn’t easy and that rosy words aren’t always the truth.

“The best fighter is never angry.”

[bctt tweet=”The calmer you are, more relevant arguments you will have. Getting angry is just a sign of losing control.” username=”missmamasaw”]
Part of emotional intelligence mastery is to know how to keep calm while expressing requirements, needs or discontentment. Have you ever seen or even lived a moment when you got angry at someone and realize it was the exact moment you lost? My nickname is “Dalai Mama” because I always do my best to keep calm while still staying assertive. The calmer you are, more relevant arguments you will have. Getting angry is just a sign of losing control.

“He who does not trust enough, Will not be trusted.”

Trust is the basis of every relationship. We can’t expect others to trust us if we doubt them. It may work for a while but at a certain point, it will blow a cold breeze to the relationship.

“To realize that you do not understand is a virtue; not to realize that you do not understand is a defect.”

I previously talked about vulnerability and I think it’s important to insist again with the help of Lao Zi. We are all human beings. We are often wrong and doing mistakes. Realizing that we don’t know how to do something and need someone’s help is actually a strength. This person will either surely do a better job than me if I tried to do it myself or give me valuable insights on how to deliver better results.

What is your favorite quote from Lao Zi if you only could choose one?