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  • When we hear the phrase the way, we often think of the physical road. The long stretch
    of earth, grass, concrete, or whatever material that we traverse to reach a destination.
    So it is no surprise when we see books upon books titled with that phrase The Toyota Way
    or The Warren Buffet Way, we think of it as some formula or a prescribed set of steps and
    methods that we can blindly follow toward success.

    But what if there's another way (ha ha!) to think of the concept behind the word way?

    Here's the famous Chinese character for "way"



    It is often romanized as Dao, Tao, or Do

    One of the most interesting ways to try and empathize with the ancestors as to what they
    were trying to capture in a Chinese character is to think of the relationship between the
    components that they chose to make up the character. So let's try that here.

    The left hand side of the character



    means to travel slowly. Well, that's not quite right... To travel with a peace of mind?
    That's not quite right, either... It's very hard to translate, but there is a notion of rhythm
    in that character, a certain kind of leisurely pace of travelling, as well as the lack
    of anxiety, which results from the chosen pace. There's no single word that embodies
    those nuances in the English language, but I hope you get the idea.

    The right side of the character



    has its origin on the human head. More specifically, the hair and the eyes. As a side story,
    hair is often used in the context of describing an acute sense. For example, when there
    is imminent danger, we talk about our hair rising to indicate our sense of danger.
    Eyes are often associated with watching out for one's self.

    The character is also thought to mean a "leader", as in the head is at the top of the body.
    But that wouldn't be telling the whole story, because the character also means to surrender,
    to submit, to bow down. Those aren't qualities that people normally associate with leadership.
    Or is it?

    Now, with the two characters placed in relationship, what comes to mind?

    Do you still think of the physical road or a set of prescribed steps or methods?

    If the character is trying to convey an experience of being, of travelling, rather than a thing,
    how would you describe it? If you were to focus less on what road you were travelling, but
    rather on the pace at which you're travelling, what would the pace be? Next time you were
    on your way somewhere If you were to focus less on where you were going, but rather on
    the environment or the surrounding, how would you accomplish that? If you wanted to lead
    the path all the while submitting and surrendering how would you do it, and how would that
    affect your experience of travelling?
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