Those who stand on tiptoes
do not stand firmly.
Those who rush ahead
do not get very far
Those who try to outshine others
dim their own light.
Those who define themselves
can’t know who they really are.
Those who seek power over others
can’t empower themselves.
Those who boast of their accomplishments
will not endure.
When walking the path of the Tao,
these actions are unworthy
and must be left behind.
Just do your job, then let go.
This might be termed the ‘keep your ego in check’ verse.
It’s something we all have to be vigilant about, for the actions spoken of here are things we’ve been brought up to see as signs of power and success: rushing ahead, climing higher, trying to outshine others, creating a solid sense of ego or ‘self’ and displaying our accomplishments so that others can recognise how ‘great’ we are.
However, such behaviours are ultimately self-defeating and very often have the opposite effect than we’d hoped.
Just do your job, Lao Tzu suggests, and let the rest go.
Why the need to constantly fluff up our egos? To spend our lives living in such a way just leaves us exhausted and ultimately unfulfilled. Why not just get on with it and set aside the need to be “better” than others or have our accomplishments or virtue recognised. Let things be as they are.