Lao Tzu wrote that “a good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving. A good artist lets intuition lead him wherever it wants. A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is”.
I first came across this translation of this quote while reading Leading With Soul by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal. This quote intrigues me. I have frequently consulted the Tao Te Ching when struggling with life and its meaning, so I am somewhat familiar with Lao Tzu’s writing, but I think more so than any other verse (with the exception on his verses about oppressive governments) these words have recently had an impact on my day to day life. I have even gone so far as to include this on my email (yeah, I know it’s cheesy, but at least the quote is somewhat thought provoking). I like to interpret this message into my work life by letting conversations and plans develop more “organically” if you will. This does not mean that I slack, or just let things fall apart, but I do not want to constrain my ideas to “what has been done before” or “what works somewhere else”. This is a problem I have encountered more than once in my present position. Too many times I am confronted with “this works great at _____, so we should do it here”. I am not a fan of this train of thought all the time. My institution is like no other. There are different students, different staff, a different culture and a different climate. I fear that this may come off as slacking or inexperience on my part, I just hope that I can help change some minds.