Writer’s block has been an issue for me lately, which is why anyone out there who visits regularly might have noticed giant gaps between posts here. Well the other day I was looking for inspiration and I did something that I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t done for a while: I returned to the Tao Te Ching. Ron Hogan’s “Getting Right with Tao” specifically because every single line of that book makes my brain pop with inspiration to write.
I came across Chapter 13 which has a message that you probably won’t see too many other places, it teaches the need for balance of everything, even winning and losing. This might be counter intuitive since one might ask “how could winning all the time be a bad thing?”
Well that’s a good question, let’s explore it a bit, shall we? Without further ado I present Chapter 13 of the Tao Te Ching from “Getting Right with Tao”:
Winning can be just as bad as losing.
Confidence can mess you up
just as much as fear.
“winning can be just as bad as losing” mean?
If you’re down,
you might be able to get up.
But if you’re up,
you can get knocked down real fast.
Don’t worry about the score,
just do what you have to do.
“confidence can mess you up
just as much as fear” mean?
Fear can keep you
from getting the job done,
can get you in over your head.
Walk tall, but don’t get cocky.
Know your limits,
and nothing can ever hold you back.
Deal with what you can.
The rest will follow.
This chapter is particularly good practical advice for modern living, who doesn’t need a reminder to keep our egos in check sometimes?
I’m not going to sit here and say that fear and losing are fantastic things, just like I’m not going to say how confidence and winning are terrible things. All of these things in excess can be bad, and like everything else in life we need to learn how to balance them out properly.
Know your limits is wisdom that I’ve followed most of my life, though I usually would just say “know thyself” instead.
Allow me to be perfectly clear here, yes, you have limits to what you can do. I can hear the war cries of “I HAVE NO LIMITS!” chanting in your head for some of you with a healthy amount of self-confidence and that’s AWESOME! I love that. Before you completely write me off though, bear with me, I’m not done explaining myself yet!
As I was saying, yes, you have limits to what you can do right now. Those limits are not fixed though! You will always improve throughout your life and by doing so you will be pushing the limits to what you can accomplish. As you push them you will have more and more that is possible for you, but you’ll still always have limits of some kind that you need to work to improve.
When you convince yourself you have no limits, that’s when it gets dangerous. When your confidence out weighs your better judgement, that’s when you think that you’re capable of dead lifting 300 pounds when the most you’d previously maxed out at is 150. You’re going to get yourself hurt or killed with that kind of attitude.
When you know your limits though, you know that nothing within them is impossible for you to do, and so nothing can hold you back from that. As you work successfully within your limits you push them further and further and once again, nothing can hold you back or stop you.
What happens when you encounter something that is beyond your capability to deal with? Well don’t worry about it and instead focus on what you can do. Almost every large problem can usually be broken down into smaller, more manageable, problems. Continue to break down things down into pieces you can deal with and you’ll see everything work out just fine.
So what’s the moral of the story here? What’s the real take away? Don’t live to win, don’t stop living because you lost, have confidence in yourself but know your limits, and if you do then nothing will be able to stop you.