Everything has a Tao. A situation may have a Tao, but how the people involved manage and deal with it is unique to them. The best way to act in accord with the Tao of a situation depends on the person involved. Factors such as goals, interests, beliefs, circumstances and creativity affect the choices open to them. What is the best choice for one may not be in the best interests of another.
Even so, when it comes to managing any situation, there are a few key steps. It does not really matter whether the situation is simple or complex. When you break it down, these are the basic steps to manage any situation.
How to Manage the Tao of a Situation
1. Define Goals
No matter a situation and its Tao, it will have no meaning for you without realistic goals. Goals give you clarity about how to act in any situation. With this clarity, you will know what to do and what not to do. You will know what you can and cannot do. In the process, you become more aware of the Tao of the situation. It will place the situation in the context of your goals and from there, you will know how to manage and proceed.
2. Identify Challenges
The next step is to identify the challenges that hinder you from reaching your goals. Here, this step provides further clarity in a given situation. You will know what your strengths and weaknesses are and where you should focus your efforts. Focus is vital because you cannot take on everything at once. You must marshal your resources to tackle the most pressing problems in a given situation to manage it well.
3. Create Solutions
Once you are clear about your challenges, you will have to find ways and means to resolve them. Here the more creative you are, the more choices you have. It is often by thinking out of the box or turning it inside out into another shape that you find the best answer. If you cannot think of a good way to resolve your challenges, find someone who can. It is not possible to be an expert in all areas and getting help when you face problems helps. Others may have vital insights that you might otherwise miss.
The key point about challenges is choice. You have to decide which course of action to take and which path to follow. The right choice leads to success, the wrong one leads to failure or worse. Here, it is also a good idea to have a backup plan in case the first one fails.
4. Execution of Plan
The best-laid plans rarely go as planned. Success therefore, relies on refinement through trial and error. When things do not go as you wish, you have to find out why and adapt as needed. The key is to consider and prepare for the outcome of your plan to ensure you are ready no matter what happens. Failure, as they say, is the mother of success.
Under ideal conditions with low stakes, you will manage without too much problems. On the one hand, you may have the direct or indirect experience needed. On the other hand, you may be able to gain enough information to assess the Tao of a situation. This will give you an idea of what to do. But even in the worst-case scenario where you fail, the price is not too high to pay. You can afford to fail until you succeed.
But what if the situation is complex? In fact, many situations are rarely ideal or simple. They can be of the crisis variety where you have to struggle to survive. Here, failure is not a welcomed option and it can have catastrophic results when it happens.
Few people make good choices in a crisis especially when the stakes are high. This is due to fear, stress, and the unknowns that makes a crisis complex and obscures the Tao. It does not matter whether it is personal, national, regional or global. The struggle to grapple with the unknowns is the same. The key difference of these situations is the resultant impact of a poor choice. The bigger the crisis, the more people it will affect.
It is hard to discern the Tao of a crisis based on logic and intuition alone. You may be able to see part of the picture, but you may miss the crucial bits. Because of this, you may not act as quickly or as decisively as you should. Or you may be too hasty and reckless by not thinking things through carefully. Despite having some of the most brilliant minds in their cabinets, world leaders rarely make wise choices for many reasons. This usually has devastating results if the crisis is global.
But what if you know the outcome of the choices you make in advance? What if you know the Tao of a situation and the possibilities open to you at any given time? How would you manage differently? Chances are you would make the best choice and take the best path available to you.
When facing any crisis, it helps to know the answers beforehand to these questions. “What is the outcome of each action and choice that I make?” Knowing the answer to this question reveals the Tao of the situation as well. It becomes clear, even if I have imperfect knowledge, what I can and cannot do.
Choosing the Best Course of Action
In the end, it all boils down to making the best choice. Creating solutions is only part of the process. You must also know how to choose the best one from the lot. This ability to discern the best choice will reduce mistakes and needless problems to a great degree. Yet if you knew the outcome of your actions in advance, this is not a difficult process at all.
To do so, I usually rely on the Yijing to discern the Tao of a situation. I also use the Yijing to assess my solutions. By knowing the outcome of my actions in advance, I am able to make the best choice I can. It is not possible to know exactly what will happen, but I can get an idea of how things will go.
For example, I can use the Yijing to see how an interview will go for me after I have prepared for it. From the reading, I will be able to grasp the Tao of the interview. I will also know how adequate my preparations are and what the interviewers want. Should I be forceful or deferential? Should I be dynamic or receptive? I will know how to pitch myself according to the demands of each interview.
Additionally, I will also be able to see the key incidents in each interview. For example, an incident might occur where it is not advisable to go too far. With this in mind, I will keep a lookout for this event and then ensure that when it happens, I resist the urge to press my point strongly. In this manner, I am more likely to leave a good impression. Had I been unaware, I might have ended up pressing my point strongly as I normally would. Otherwise, this incident would never have appeared. It takes insight and discernment to avoid acting by default and as the times demand.
It is my experience that the more complex a situation is, the more questions I will have to ask. My questions usually focus on the unknowns. I ask myself what answers I need to know what to do and then formulate my questions from there. As such, clarity of goals is very important as I stated early on. By being able to make the best choice in any given situation, I am always able to align my actions with the Tao to my benefit.
Knowing the best choice to make in any situation has changed my life forever. In the past, I used to worry about my actions and choices. As a result, I was always on edge, full of fear and worry. Because I could not sense the Tao of a situation, it is no surprise that I did not make good choices. I usually walked into crisis after crisis and pitfall after pitfall.
All that changed when I started using the Yijing to discern the Tao of a situation. My life has less unnecessary surprises and there is less worry. After all, if I know what will happen in advance, it is just a matter of taking the needed steps to deal with it. Having the will to see hard choices through over a long period is another story.
The good thing about my approach is its universal application. I can apply it to any area or problem in life that involves choice. If people acted in accord with the Tao of each situation, life would be smoother, simpler, happier and more satisfying. I cannot help but wonder how this would change the world if world leaders knew the best choices to make. Because of our interdependence, the best choice usually involves the greater good.
In my next article, I will do case studies of real life examples. I will show you the approach I take in detail to make better choices. Is there any particular example you wish to see? How will knowing the outcome of your actions and choices beforehand change your life? Do share your thoughts and comments below!