What is Infinite?

Introduction

all-rivers-flow-to-the-sea-paul-harmon-2014Tao Te Ching
Chapter Seven
The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.
The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.

Line and Feather

our-townStates of the Unions
This is an add-on to yesterday’s post.
Want to change the world? Don’t look to Davos
Sydney Finkelstein, January 18, 2017, BBC
There is a dance at Davos among the powerful that has little to do with progress.
What is “responsive and responsible leadership”? The World Economic Forum (WEF) is anointing this idea (or goal, or label, take your pick) as its theme for the 2017 Davos gathering. So, what exactly is this elite group talking about?
Continued excerpts . . . These vignettes from Sydney’s article are powerful to me.
There is a man who comes in to take the trash from my office every day. When I’m there we chat. He usually tells me that he’s been skiing, or to a concert, or helping out at the food bank in his neighborhood, or spending time with friends and family. What he says is very simple and doesn’t seem so profound. But it is also truer than so much of what goes on at Davos. This man actually did those things that he shares with me. He is living his life, working, engaging, and thriving.
Of course, it doesn’t compare to the heads of state and corporate CEOs vying for the best accommodations and being seen among the seen, but not in the way you might think. This man, this janitor, is real. He makes no grand plans, he lives his life. He doesn’t talk about helping others, he actually does it. He knows little about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (the label the WEF uses to describe the massive changes driven by digital technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics). But he does know about keeping our offices tidy and clean. That’s his job, he takes pride in it, and it adds value to me and others.
This man is not alone. There is the woman who has cut my hair (what little I have left) for the last 15 years. I was there the other day, when I heard what her kids were up to (the older one in middle school might have a girlfriend), I heard about her weekend snowmobiling with her family, and I heard about the new gel she wants to try on me. She is a professional. And she’s real, too.
The people you encounter every day, they aren’t acting. They’re doing. The people you encounter every day, they aren’t acting. They’re doing.
There’s also the bartender at my favorite spot in town. And the barista at PK Coffee, the pop-up espresso bar not too far from where I live. And the mailman who always stops to say hello when I’m outside. These people are real. They do whatever they do, every day —and they generally do the best they can.
There’s a word for people like this: society.
So forgive me for not being impressed with the people at Davos. They are acting in a complex play, being seen in the practice of helping the world be a better place. But the people I encounter every day, they aren’t acting. They’re doing. And I’ll take doing over acting every day of the week.
So if the giants of government, industry and non-governmental entities can’t do it, how do you change the world? How do you make life better?
I asked this question to my favorite barista, and she said: “Do you like your espresso today?” And I did.

Sydney Finkelstein is the Steven Roth Professor of Management and Director of the Leadership Center at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. His latest book is Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent (Portfolio/Penguin, 2016).

PS Sydney, I am looking forward to reading your book (just added to my Kindle stack) and hoping you will join us and share your insights at Workplace Hidden Opportunities.

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