At the Mercy of Ants - Part 1
Laozi said that a beached whale is at the mercy of ants, and the prince who forgets his place and [with his ministers contends to serve] is at the mercy of bureaucrats.
A prince keeps his throne by doing nothing. He knows his place and builds trust by listening closely. Ministers and subordinates respect his judgement and don't question it. Instead, they hold superiors to account by serving them.
When a prince doesn't trust the experts and likes doing it himself, his judgement gets worse every day and he has only himself to blame. He can't be objective when he plays favourites with subordinates, and he can't stay in charge when he steps down from the throne. And when his judgement no longer inspires obedience and his position no longer commands respect, there's no way for him to influence subordinates.
When he takes every whim and slight to heart, when he plays favourites in public, those who once knew their place stop doing the right thing and start pandering to superiors. When public servants break the law and serve themselves, when they're not rewarded for merit, not held accountable for corruption, that's when ruler and ruled take grudges to heart.
When the prince and his servants resent each other, when his team is in chaos and no one trusts his judgement, when problems arise and no one follows his orders, when he makes mistakes and blames others instead, that's when the master is weak and servants are lazy.
That's how those who wield the great craftsman's blade rarely don't cut their own hands.