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Excerpted from Tao of Personal Leadership by Diane Dreher. Copyright © 1997 by Diane Dreher. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Success in life no longer comes from externals: from mastering a single skill or even a single profession."

  Diane Dreher, Tao of Personal Leadership, Part 3

The ancient philosophers from Lao-tzu to Boethius were right about one thing: The world around us is constantly changing. And with the fast-forward pace of our technology, success in life no longer comes from externals: from mastering a single skill or even a single profession. By the time you or I master it, the field could well be obsolete.

In this fast-paced postmodern world, the most relevant lessons are, ironically, some of the oldest. Successful leaders in any field see their work in terms of systems, informed by principles as old as the Tao Te Ching and as new as quality circles, Japanese management, archetypes, empowerment, and shared governance. 

Today's leader is not someone who knows all the answers because in this world that is impossible. He or she is not someone who makes decisions and gives orders in the old military model of leadership. Rather, the new leader is someone who can assess a situation, bring people together, build consensus, and discover solutions, drawing on the talents of everyone involved. The new leader is a facilitator, a communicator, a team builder, who realizes that our greatest natural resources are our minds and hearts, together with those of the people around us.

Drawing on natural principles as old as time, the new leader brings the wisdom of Tao into daily life. He or she constantly faces the unknown, standing on the edge of previous knowledge and ability. Yet, empowered by the principles of Tao, these new leaders blend with the energies around them, realizing that they can redefine and reform situations by their own responses. They work to create community, transcending conflict with cooperation, transforming problems into solutions. 

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