9781573220897 / 1573220892

Real Power: Business Lessons from the Tao Te Ching


Publisher:Riverhead Books



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About the book:

The Tao Te Ching,more commonly known these days as "the Tao" is, after the Bible, the most widely translated book in history. Written by a Chinese scholar in the sixth century BC, while we in the West were still daubing ourselves in woad, it's a compendium of gnomic life- advice for the perplexed, specialising in tips of the "less is more" variety.

Here, James Autry, who comes from the compassionate wing of modern business practice, has got together with translator Stephen Mitchell to produce a modern-day guide to management and business based on the Tao.

Autry, whose previous literary credits include "Love and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership", describes the starting point for his humanist approach to business thus: "..managers put too much faith in systems and not enough in people." And he claims that the Tao "is perhaps the worldıs most profound book of leadership wisdom..." It "...talks about the principles that underlie all truly fulfilling enterprises."

The book itself is designed to be dipped into rather than read cover to cover and consists largely of short (heavily adapted) extracts from the Tao followed by a two or three page commentary.

The central theme is the paradoxical idea that only by "letting go" can you really control your business. "The acceptance of non-control is the only way to manage things," writes Autry. "There aren't any rules. There is only a way of being. If you use this little book as a guide, all you need to do is look inside yourself and determine what you should let go of, then let go of it every day."

This may be little rich for many tastes, but the book's great strengths are its compassion and its stillness. It will make a handy vade me cumfor rushed business people, a portable reminder that behind all the haste and day-to-day pressure of the modern business world, there can be decency and a greater purpose. This is a bit like the literary equivalent of Valium--reading it leaves you feeling calmer, although unlike Valium, it leaves you feeling clearer too. -- Alex Benady

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