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10 Leadership Lessons 
from the Tao Te Ching 
An Ancient Text With A Modern Message 
Ken Tabor, @KenTabor
If you want to know me, 
look inside your heart. 
Poem 70
Tao Te Ching 
consists of 81 poems 
written by Lao-Tzu 
around 550 BC 
Tao Te Ching roughly means The Book of the Way
Think of the Tao as the 
unnamable, essential, ideal 
form, and process of all 
existence. 
Please dig deeper because it’s a HUGE concept
I have just three things to teach: 
simplicity, patience, compassion. 
These three are your greatest treasures. 
Poem 67
wei wu wei 
action without action 
It’s not a matter of doing nothing
How can we achieve a 
wholly instinctive way of 
behaving? 
Where we cannot separate an actor from the action
If you don’t trust the people, 
you make them untrustworthy. 
Poem 17 
#1
Knowing others is intelligence; 
knowing yourself is true wisdom. 
Mastering others is strength; 
mastering yourself is true power. 
Poem 33 
#2
Poem 3 
#3 
If you over esteem great men, 
people become powerless.
In thinking, keep to the simple. 
In conflict, be fair and generous. 
In governing, don’t try to control. 
In work, do what you enjoy. 
Poem 8 
#4
Those who know don’t talk. 
Those who talk don’t know. 
Poem 56 
#5
The Master leads 
by emptying people’s minds 
and filling their cores 
Poem 3 
#6
When they think that they know the 
answers, 
people are difficult to guide. 
When they know that they don’t know, 
people can find their own way. 
Poem 65 
#7
The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. 
When his work is done, 
the people say, “Amazing: 
we did it, all by ourselves!” 
Poem 17 
#8
The Master has no possessions. 
The more he does for others, 
the happier he is. 
The more he gives to others, 
the wealthier he is. 
Poem 81 
#9
Care about people’s approval 
and you will be their prisoner. 
Do your work, then step back. 
The only path to serenity. 
poem 9 
#10
Tao Te Ching 
Translations (C) 1988 by 
Stephen Mitchell 
Harper & Row, Publishers
Tao Te Ching 
Written in Chinese 
it must be translated 
Written 25 centuries ago 
it must be interpreted 
In the form of poetry 
it must be expressed
We shape clay into a pot, 
but it is the emptiness inside 
that holds whatever we want. 
Stephen Mitchell 
! 
Hollowed out, 
clay makes a pot. 
Where the pot’s not 
is where it’s useful. 
Ursula K. Le Guin 
! 
One hollows the clay and shapes it into pots: 
In its nothingness consists the pot’s effectiveness. 
Richard Wilhelm and H.G. Ostwald 
! 
Shape clay into a vessel; 
It is the space within that makes it useful. 
Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English 
4 translations for the same passage of poem 11
More on Leadership and 
Technology 
blog.katworksgames.com 
Ken Tabor, @KenTabor, bit.ly/kenslides

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10 Leadership Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

  • 1. 10 Leadership Lessons from the Tao Te Ching An Ancient Text With A Modern Message Ken Tabor, @KenTabor
  • 2. If you want to know me, look inside your heart. Poem 70
  • 3. Tao Te Ching consists of 81 poems written by Lao-Tzu around 550 BC Tao Te Ching roughly means The Book of the Way
  • 4. Think of the Tao as the unnamable, essential, ideal form, and process of all existence. Please dig deeper because it’s a HUGE concept
  • 5. I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Poem 67
  • 6. wei wu wei action without action It’s not a matter of doing nothing
  • 7. How can we achieve a wholly instinctive way of behaving? Where we cannot separate an actor from the action
  • 8. If you don’t trust the people, you make them untrustworthy. Poem 17 #1
  • 9. Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. Poem 33 #2
  • 10. Poem 3 #3 If you over esteem great men, people become powerless.
  • 11. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. Poem 8 #4
  • 12. Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know. Poem 56 #5
  • 13. The Master leads by emptying people’s minds and filling their cores Poem 3 #6
  • 14. When they think that they know the answers, people are difficult to guide. When they know that they don’t know, people can find their own way. Poem 65 #7
  • 15. The Master doesn’t talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, “Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!” Poem 17 #8
  • 16. The Master has no possessions. The more he does for others, the happier he is. The more he gives to others, the wealthier he is. Poem 81 #9
  • 17. Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity. poem 9 #10
  • 18. Tao Te Ching Translations (C) 1988 by Stephen Mitchell Harper & Row, Publishers
  • 19. Tao Te Ching Written in Chinese it must be translated Written 25 centuries ago it must be interpreted In the form of poetry it must be expressed
  • 20. We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. Stephen Mitchell ! Hollowed out, clay makes a pot. Where the pot’s not is where it’s useful. Ursula K. Le Guin ! One hollows the clay and shapes it into pots: In its nothingness consists the pot’s effectiveness. Richard Wilhelm and H.G. Ostwald ! Shape clay into a vessel; It is the space within that makes it useful. Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English 4 translations for the same passage of poem 11
  • 21. More on Leadership and Technology blog.katworksgames.com Ken Tabor, @KenTabor, bit.ly/kenslides