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  • Writer's pictureJardena London

Toon-Te-Ching: Verse 10

Welcome to this week’s installment of the Toon-Te-Ching. Each week we are taking one of the 81 verses of the Tao-Te-Ching, pairing it with a toon and connecting the teaching to our work life.

Verse 10

Carrying body and soul

and embracing the one,

can you avoid separation?

Can you let your body become

as supple as a newborn child’s?

In the opening and shutting of heaven’s gate,

can you play the feminine part?

Can you love your people

and govern your domain

without self-importance?

Giving birth and nourishing;

having, yet not possessing;

working, yet not taking credit;

leading without controlling or dominating.

One who heeds this power

brings the Tao to this very earth.

This is the primal virtue.

Bring your Whole Self. The first stanza encourages us to avoid separation. Are you a different person at work than you are at home? Are you able to compartmentalize your feelings and keep them separate from the work that needs to get done? Is there a masculine self that you bring to work and a feminine self that comes out when you’re home? When we fragment ourselves into pieces we end up spending a lot of our lives outside of our authentic self. Aside from the fact that we are in our full power when we are smack dab in the sweet spot of our true self, suppressing our true selves can lead to anxiety, addiction, poor health and all kinds of other bad stuff.

Bring on the Feminine! Having just finished teaching a workshop on Gender Wholeness, I was pleased to see that even Lao-Tzu agrees that we can all tap into our feminine energy some more. Yes, men, that means you too. If you are uncomfortable with the term ‘feminine’ perhaps you would prefer to use the specific characteristics that the Tao refers to. Creativity, nurturing, being of service and servant leadership.

Govern without Self-Importance. To anyone who has ever been in any management role and those who ever wish to, the Tao is asking you to drop the self-importance and lead with love. As I’m reading this, something is nagging at me. Have I led with self-importance? Perhaps. Let’s define self-importance and examine how it shows up in the workplace.


/ˈˌself əmˈpôrtns/


  • an exaggerated sense of one's own value or importance. "he was a big, blustering, opinionated cop, full of self-importance"

I suspect that when Lao-Tzu wrote this verse, he was referring to kings and leaders who relished in their royalty, splendor, and power. It made them feel important. This shows up at work in things like corner offices and access to important people. If you are name-dropping your CEO and quoting from conversations you’ve had with her, you might be governing with self-importance.

Brain Twist: How can you lead without controlling or dominating this week? I challenge you to find one place where you can control less and lead more.

Credit: Dyer, Wayne. Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. Hay House. Kindle Edition.

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