Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wen Tzu - Verse 93

from Verse Ninety-Three
A ringing chime ruins itself giving sound, a tallow candle burns itself out giving light. The patterns of tigers and leopards bring hunters, the quickness of monkeys brings trappers.

Thus brave warriors die because of their strength, intellectuals are stymied because of their knowledge; they are able to use knowledge to know, but they are unable to use knowledge not to know.
~ Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries ~
Talent can be a good thing, but it can also be a person's Achilles' heel.

In western society, we are taught that it's a good trait to stand out from the crowd, to maximize our talents to be the best we can be. While the Taoist sages certainly believe we must each maximize our talents (internal nature) to the fullest, they concurrently warn that standing out has one unintended consequence -- it makes us a target for others to want to knock down.

In a world beset with competition, no one can be number one for long. People will either try to surpass or dethrone the person seen as the pinnacle. Just take a look at the recent travails of golfer Tiger Woods. The media has gone to great lengths to expose his every character flaw and peccadillo.

Of course, one of the prime reasons the media has been so fervent in its reporting is that Woods and his team of advisers have spent the past decade creating a ubiquitous image and, now that it's been discovered that the real person and that image are at great odds, the media and public has reacted gleefully by knocking Woods off of his public relations throne.

If the current revelations about Woods and his many infidelities had been about fellow golfer Steve Stricker instead, I can't imagine there would have been near the public firestorm. Though Stricker is ranked as the third best golfer in the world, he is relatively anonymous to people outside of the golfing world.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

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