Advancing Without Moving a Step

Reflections on Chapter 69 of the Tao Te Ching:

sunrise at Nan province,North of thailand

Great warriors say,
I dare not move first but rather act as a guest.
I dare not advance an inch but rather retreat a foot.

This is called advancing without moving a step,
holding out one’s hand without extending a weapon
when no enemy is present.

Misfortune is no greater than
underestimating one’s opponent.

Making light of your opponents,
you will certainly lose your treasures.

The woman of compassion wins.


We hold many beliefs about the people around us.

These beliefs are subtle, just underneath the surface of things. We make judgments about people based on our experiences and our assumptions of the world.  These assumptions are based on what has happened to us and actually have nothing to do with the other person. This can negatively flavor our relationships and our interactions with people.

Anyone who is close to you who knows you, knows you based on their own past experiences. This is normal and natural. We can’t help it. In some ways, we are tied to the experiences that we’ve had in the past. They can hold us back and keep us stuck.

In other ways we don’t have to be stuck.

We have the opportunity in any moment to move beyond the patterns of the past and create a brand new future. This understanding is not new but we still stay stuck sometimes.

I think this is called comedy.

I love that every moment is brand new. That is pretty cool. I get to start over, I get a “get out of jail free” card every minute. When I was a kid, we moved around about every four years or so. It was tough at times, but at some point I remember feeling kinda excited about it because I got a do-over. I could reinvent myself and I often did.


I am listening to this book right now called Mighty Be Our Powers.

It is an incredible story of a woman that I am highlighting as one of the stories in my upcoming leadership course (which I will share more about soon!) Leymah Gbowee, the author, is an amazing example of the kind of leadership I am talking about and that Lao Tzu talks about throughout the Tao Te Ching.  Leymah had so many reasons to not be amazing. She had some really great excuses! Many people would have given up. She did give up, many times over. In fact, at one point in the story she said that her family would be really better off if she were not alive.

She had a very difficult life.

In the end, she kept going and thrived. She eventually helped millions of people to live an amazing life and saved countless lives with her incredible work. With support of her family and friends, she was able to move with her past and eventually used her past experiences as fuel for moving forward.

We relate to each other with definitions
that really have nothing to do with the reality of this moment.

We are always helping (and hindering) each other and it is usually either one or the other in any given moment. We choose. Every second. Ultimately, we want to help each other. We want things to be good. Even if someone is really awful, they are usually awful because they are tremendously upset about how things did not work out for them.

Humanity is basically good.

People do not normally intend to do harm. That belief just isn’t realistic. Think about every person that you know and I will bet that you would be hard-pressed to find one person that really intends to harm others. Any intention to do harm that you find is most likely based on retaliation because the person feels that they’ve been harmed. It almost always stems from that.

In Leymah’s book, she talks about that. When healing a situation that is very negative, you have to embrace the perpetrator (the person who did you wrong) with forgiveness. She had an abusive husband and did that. Thank God she did because her most amazing work came from that forgiveness and healing that she wanted to share with others.



So what do you think? Do you think people are basically good or are there some evil ones out there? What are your thoughts on this topic? Tell us in the comments area below! We’d love to hear from you!


  1. Basically good. Evil? Yes, it exists but I don’t think people are inherently bad. That doesn’t flow with my world view and never has.
    Arwen recently posted…How Do You Get Turned On?My Profile

  2. We all have people that we struggle to get on with, its part of life. To keep trying to get past the anger to a place of peace is hard sometimes. If you are naturally a peace loving person then you do shy away from aggressive personalities; but it is hard sometimes to find the right balance of demonstrating love to the p.erson while respecting your own needs
    Athena Brady recently posted…Giving Something Back Post 2My Profile

    • Sweet recognition, Athena. We definitely learn who we want to have in our lives but for those “sticky people” that seem to be there no matter what we do – there is usually some kind of lesson involved, isn’t there? lol…

  3. I believe that we are all born to be good and what is perceived to be bad is only that person’s life experiences and what they learned either from parents, teachers or others that is being reflected. I truly believe that so many issues get handed down (plus what we create ourselves) until we do the work to free ourselves from what doesn’t belong to us and clear things up. Great post Amy.

    • Sometimes it is hard to tell what belongs to us and what belongs to someone else. I always think that if I have “energy around” something, it is most likely my stuff and there’s plenty of that to go around!

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