I’ve got a copy of the Tao Te Ching called The Tao of Power that I’ve had for many many years. And like the other books I’ve got on my shelf, it seems to be an endless resource point for self-learning. In effect, I can read a book once, put it back, and then pick it up months or even years later and learn something completely new. I love having books like that.
What I noticed in reading the book lately though was how closely it relates to this “thing” that I’ve been exploring and pursuing for so long. In effect, something related to social systems design or a natural way of life. One thing in particular, in my last reading, really jumped out at me though and I’m surprised that I didn’t notice it before (or maybe I read it but forgot about it): attitude. Here’s an excellent quote from the opening chapters of the book that explain who Lao Tzu was, what he was trying to teach within the Tao Te Ching, and how it relates to attitude.
Use attitude instead of action, and lead others by guiding rather than ruling. Manage people by letting them act on you, and not the other way around. In this way, your subjects will develop a sense of self-government, and you, as their guide, will be rewarded with their loyalty and cooperation.
What I found interesting about this statement is how attitude seems to be so critical to an effective team as a whole and not just its leader. In effect, if everyone on your team doesn’t have the right attitude then often times it doesn’t “flow” very well. Yet when everyone has the right attitude, there seems to be this thriving hive of activity and things just naturally happen without very much effort.
This directly relates to my experiences within video game clans in the past. I never ever recruited people based upon skill alone. If anything I realized, knowledge could easily be learned, particularly within the right fertile learning environment (i.e. veterans always working alongside newbies). What was important for the long lasting success and sustainability of the group though was a person’s attitude. For example, someone could be incredibly skillful, yet if they didn’t have the right attitude, they often didn’t gel with the team very well, thus causing blockages or friction within the group.
More specifically though, I discovered one critical component of this right attitude, while reading an offhand comment by an MMO blogger recently. He mentioned something about some of the best gamers within MMO games and in guilds / clans are those who are constantly thinking about how to improve their characters and themselves. When he said that, I immediately knew what he was talking about: care. In effect, if you don’t have the right caring attitude to even care about yourself then, more often than not, you’re not going to care about others in turn. Yet if you do care about yourself, then there seems to be this constant desire for self-learning and, in turn, a caring for others around you to the point that you desire to see them empowered as well.
The same applies to business environments I’ve been within. I’ve seen people with not much skill but a boundless desire to improve themselves and these people are an incredible asset to the company because you know when they do acquire that skill (which they usually do rather quickly), they usually go on to do amazing things within the company, helping others in turn. Yet on the opposite side of the spectrum, you sometimes see people who just sit around, with little care for self-improvement, and thus often little care for helping those around them. Again the right caring attitude seems to make all the difference in the effectiveness of social groups.