If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.
Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 57, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
I am Watching You, Leslie Knope
I have a friend who is running for political office. She is running as an independent candidate to be a state representative in the Missouri General Assembly. Just the other day she posted an article on her Facebook page about the ongoing problem of corruption in Jefferson City, my state’s capitol. I am supporting Terry Hampton in her election bid; I must be, since I volunteered to be her campaign’s treasurer. And, we have some good conversations. We think of ourselves much like two of the characters from the TV show, Parks and Recreation. I am Ron Swanson to her Leslie Knope. I commented on her post, “Power attracts those who are the most easily corruptible.” And she replied, “This one should give me pause, shouldn’t it?” So, I replied back, “Let’s just say I will be vigilantly watchful.” To which, she replied, “I expect no less.”
Anyway, Leslie, erm Terry, today’s chapter is for you.
It is actually for all the Leslie Knopes out there. You know who you are.
If you want to be a great leader, you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
I mean it. It is a hallmark of any one aspiring to political office. You perceive problems, and you have the answers. And, the answers tend to resort to the use of force.
I am not accusing Terry, my Leslie, of this. I wouldn’t be supporting her, if I didn’t have a pretty good idea that she isn’t so weak, so easily corruptible, as just about anyone else who runs for political office.
But my Leslie, Terry, still needs to be vigilant about this. Because power does tend to corrupt. That is why telling all you Leslie Knopes out there to stop trying to control is so very important.
You need to let go of all your fixed plans and concepts. Here, the Ron Swanson in me chuckles. Imagine, Leslie Knope letting go of all those binders. But, there is one thing that Ron Swanson and I know for certain: The world is fully capable of governing itself.
Try to let that sink in for a moment. Don’t choke on those words. The world will govern itself, if you will only let it.
When you don’t, when you intervene and interfere, when you try to control, then things get ugly. The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be. The more weapons you have, the less secure people will be. The more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be.
As I said, before, I am not really worried about my Leslie. My Leslie gets it. But, that doesn’t mean I won’t remain vigilantly watchful of her.
Will she let go of the law, and trust the people will become honest? Will she let go of economics, and trust the people will become prosperous? Will she let go of religion, and trust the people will become serene? Will she let go of all desire for the common good, and trust that the good will become as common as grass?
I am watching you, Leslie Knope.