Dao of Staying Detached


Peak performers focus on the Dao (Tao) for making them distinguished. They know what they need to do, not only what they wish to do.

They systematically put together the ingredients enable them to make top performance possible, so that they can be totally at ease when performing.

Such performers are not only in the performing artistes. They are in every field, from sports and sciences to business.

Including the fine boatman in the fable of Zhuangzi!

dao and staying detached

A disciple of Confucius met the boatman who displayed supernatural skills. Curiously he asked, “Can a person learn how to handle a boat like you?”

“Certainly,” said the boatman. “If you want to be a good boatman, do not worry about rowing.”

“Learn to swim,” says the boatman. “A good swimmer will in no time get the knack of handling the boat. If a man can swim under water, he may never have seen a boat before and still he'll know how to handle it!'

The disciple did not fully comprehend what the boatman mean, and besought Confucius to spell it out.

"A good swimmer will in no time get the knack of boating, that means he's forgotten the water,” said the sage. “If a man can swim under water, he may never have seen a boat before and still he'll know how to handle it. This is because he sees the water as so much dry land, and regards the capsizing of a boat as he would the overturning of a cart.”

“The ten thousand things may all be capsizing and backsliding at the same time right in front of him and it can't get at him and affect what's inside. So where could he go and not be at ease?” added the sage.

In whatever you do, if you want to do it extremely well, put the ingredients that enable you to be totally at ease together. It is like learning to swim before rowing a boat. It is the Dao of achieving top performance.

If you can't swim, it is hard for you to be a good boatman. The apprehension for falling into the water impedes you ability to excel.

Knowing what exactly to do, however, may not be clear cut. It is just like boating; the most critical is not boating techniques but swimming. For the same token, the most important for selling may not be selling, and for making money may not be making money. It involves an perspective of Dao.

Finding out the answer requires and you will stay detached. When you stay detached, you work on the right ingredients for success, and you are on your way to the best.



tao of speaker

A jovial, eloquent man who is care-free among friends, suddenly turned mute when he is taken to the rostrum. He apparently has the speaking skills, but cannot speak. What have prevented him from performing his best? Can application of Tao help?

Points to Ponder

The man loses his ability to speak on stage not because he cannot speak, but because of fear for failure. This is not unlike a person who cannot row a boat on water because of fear for water.

The man can work on better speaking skills later. What he needs immediately are techniques to drive away fear, and the courage to fail.

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