Thursday, March 23, 2006

insight: the three jewels of taoism

I'm going to say this softly. Bear with me.

Brad Feld opened my eyes to something somewhat disturbing in a recent post of his.

If Brad is any indication, VCs like it when you are direct and honest.

On reflection, it seems to me that a great many people in business like it when you are direct and honest. Hmm. Was I direct and honest? I thought I'd go find out.

So when I looked for - and got - some "direct and honest" feedback from a trusted peer that I am (occasionally, but dramatically) indirect and prevaricating, I struggled to figure out a way to be direct and honest without being insulting, since most people I've met who are uniformly direct and honest are, frankly, lacking in that je-ne-sais-quoi artistry of sprit that I really treasure in myself and others. Put another way, I used to think folks like this were utter $@%@#.

When I thought about this some more, it occurred to me that this might not be an entirely generous - or accurate - impression. My world view was broken, somehow. Something had to change.

Sensing I needed to be compassionate with myself, I thought I'd see how directness and honesty would feel if they were advised by little doses of that compassion, and voila, I found the three jewels of Taoism laid out for me: moderation (akin to directness), humility (akin to honesty), and compassion.

Compassion is a strange thing. It's a deep awareness of and sympathy for another's suffering. Some would argue that there is no place for compassion in business.

I could argue that compassion could make all the difference. An awareness of and sympathy for the position of someone else advises you in ways that mere knowledge cannot.

So in my own efforts to struggle through my current constellation of suffering, I'll try to be direct, honest and compassionate with those around me. We'll see how that works.

There. That feels better.

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