The main theme I get from this verse is Lao-Tzu is challenging us to work for a cause greater than ourselves. He is also calling us to service. To be of service of our fellow man.
Allow me to touch on the art and science of sales for a second and see if you can relate this to your own life. If you go into a sales situation with no regard for the needs of your client and no real love for your product, you are setting yourself up for ultimate failure. You have to believe that what you're selling is the answer to what your client has been looking for. You need to show them the value of your product and how it meets their needs.
If it's all about you getting a deal, closing someone, and taking their money, you're not serving them. You're serving yourself. There's a big difference between these two phrases:
1. I want to sell "X" and make a ton of money doing it.
2. I want to make a ton of money and so I'm going to sell "X".
When you go into sales with the attitude of how can I serve, all kinds of wonderful things will happen. Namely, you'll sleep better at night and customers will recognize your sincerity and passion and choose you. Many times they'll even pay more. But the key is you have to be genuinely committed to being of service. If you're only in it for the money, you may do OK for a while, but there's no longevity there.
Heaven is eternal - the earth endures, Why do heaven and earth last forever? They do not live for themselves only. This is the secret of their durability.
For this reason, the sage puts himself last and so ends up ahead.
This verse also reminds me of another popular man of wisdom and some words he left us for consideration.
"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." -Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus is great example in putting others first and working for a cause greater than himself. You can look into modern times to see others who followed this Verse and prospered. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, The Dali Lama, etc. There are countless examples through out history that show the enormous levels of strength that are required to change a nation or counter balance the negative energy of the world with pure love.
So let's tie this into strength training now. What does it take to Deadlift 3 times your bodyweight? What does it take to Snatch a 24kg Kettlebell 200 times in 10 minutes? What do you need to have to press half your bodyweight? What does it take to teach someone strength?
More than raw strength, that's for sure. And you better be training for something greater than what looks back at you in the mirror. Body image is a consequence. It should not be the main goal. Strength training and Kettlebells have enabled me to overcome a lot and helped me through some very rough times in my life. I only hope that I can pass on what I've learned and the wisdom I've gained to others and that they can find their own strength to overcome any obstacles they find in their way.
There will be a difference between the overweight father with high cholesterol who let himself go and is now trying to slim down to make sure he's around to see his daughter off to the Prom in 15 years and the guy at the gym who pulls his muscle shirt up to check his ABS in the mirror. Who has more heart? Who is stronger?
Another question would be, and the answer will require great strength in itself, is; What do I need to release in order to develop great strength? The answer will hover around and most likely be your Ego. The Ego will only slow down your progress. The release of Ego's hold over your identity can open up a whole new world for you. In a previous blog, I mentioned you have to first be weak before you can be strong. Identifying and correcting your weakness (physical and spiritual) requires humility and great strength. When you start to train for something greater than yourself, just like in sales, you will see wonderful things start to happen.
He stays a witness to life, so he endures.
Be on the lookout because the next step to strength is faith.
Serve the needs of others, and all your own needs will be fulfilled. Through selfless action, fulfillment is attained.
When you set out to be of service, when you are genuine in your desire to be of service, when you focus on serving a cause greater then your own ego, you will find that you will not have to worry about money, food and shelter. It will arrive right on time if you are pure in your intentions. This is something you must believe with your whole heart. This is also concept that will instantly fire up your Ego. Even as I write this I can hear my ego in the back of my head fighting and arguing with me in this concept. This is why faith is such an important next step and why cultivating faith will lead you to greater strength. When I watch movies about warriors I always admire the courage it takes to press on and fight despite the fact that death is so close. That is the faith of the warrior. Fighting for a cause greater then them. Look at Maximus in Gladiator or Leonidis in 300. Heck, look at Rocky. I suppose that is why The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman has been such an influence for me in recent years. Dan showed me how to bring the Warrior spirit to my daily life. It is something I am still working on, but I am further ahead now than when I started.
Faith and strength come from the heart. When my Ego fire's up or that little voice that's always trying to keep you in homeostasis starts trash talking one of the great elements of humanity presents itself. Choose to follow your heart. Find ways to genuinely be of service to others and find yourself living a very wealthy life that is quite rich. It may not always be a big bank account but you will be fulfilled!