Growing with Great Difficulty – Fix it with I-Ching #39 蹇 Lame’s Teaching!

Many businessmen felt the need to grow their business quickly. They think they must grow to survive. They are advised to be agile, responsive, flexible and to move with speed. They learn from the inspiring quotes of the rich and famous and hear of advice that says, “In this new world, fire first and then aim” without the correct understanding of the context. Singapore is too small, they are advised to go abroad. So, they just spend money to try to grow their business. Some even globalize into China, Vietnam, India, Russia and even Brazil. They heard that these were the newly rich and rapidly developing countries. Truths without the context will lead to many wrong decisions. Many have encountered great difficulties in their growth. Quite a number have made major losses and have to shutdown their expansion plans. Fortunate are the cautious who are still able to keep their base camp business. It is better that they check up the wisdom of i-Ching before they grow too fast. Even if they encounter grow pains, i-Ching also provides some wisdom with Hexagram 39 蹇 Lame – Move Rightly on Your Strength (registration needed). I reproduce the summary teaching of the hexagram here with additional comments below: 

Summary Teaching of 39蹇 Lame:

  1. When meeting obstruction, pause and see clearly.
    • We must resist the urge to react too quickly. Pause first to see the situation clearly and then develop the response.
    • Always choose to response positively to any situation, specially the adverse ones. Don’t prejudge too quickly. Check your direction and positioning.
    • Are you positioning your offering in the right place at the right time?
      When a Chocolate company expanded into India, they have to sell their chocolates in smaller sizes and lower prices, provide cooler to keep the chocolate in good condition, and position it as items for celebration. What about your offering and positioning?
  2. Take the right way that leads to success and not the short-cut evil way that eventually brings failure.
    • There are always option available to us. If you think there is none, think again. Think outside of yourselves.
    • See point 3 below. Under difficulty, you will be tempted to take short-cut. Don’t do it. Stick to the righteous way.
  3. Always seek and follow advice of the wise.
    • Be bold and unashamed to ask for advice and help.
    • Just make sure you ask the right people and not just anyone.
  4. Building character will brings long lasting success.
    • Long lasting business can only be built on unchanging foundation of truth and righteousness.
    • Build this culture throughout your organization.

    Wisdom from the Stage Lines:
    The building of Internal Strengths to get moving involves the following stages:

    1. Wait for the right time to move especially for things beyond our control.
    2. Get first hand knowledge and then work together to seek the interests of the community and not self.
      • Rapid moving company needs the information from the front-lines – the people serving the customers.
      • It is difficult to have a hierarchical structure for information to filter up to the boss to get the truth. It will be too slow and usually distorted. Get the organization to be more opened and transparent so that information can be shared quickly and truthfully. See how the successful companies like HCL tech, The Morning Star Company, WLGore, Google, Zappos, etc operate. Read my posts on self-management such as The Future Of Management is Ancient Chinese ClassicsIntegrated View of the Wisdom of Chinese Classics – Future of Management Now.
    3. Build Morale – Celebrate and learned from past successes and get ready for the right time to charge forward.
      • Most people have “Defect fixing” mindset. They focus on their failures and weaknesses and forgot about their successes.
      • Have a “Positive Appreciation” mindset instead. Study your success and learn what make you successful. Find out your core competitive strengths and re-examine whether you have lost it. When company grows, complexity set in and the core-strengths slowly get lost in the midst of growing. Back to your basics and cores. Celebrate those things to bring up the morale and clarity of strategies.
    4. Get Alignment – Return to strengthen unity and alignment first. Put the right people at the right jobs.
      • Many businesses can grow quickly when small. But if the business is not built to scale, the growth will straight away amplifies the weaknesses of the business.
      • Make sure:
        • the mission, vision and strategies are shared and cascaded through out.
        • the processes are streamlined. So see what can be standardized, centralized, modularized, optimized, outsourced (to partner that share the culture), prioritized to support the mission and vision.
        • Pick and put the right people on the right jobs.
        • Get information and trust flowing.
        • Get the engagement of staff high.
        • Then you are ready for growth.
    5. Get Support – Have a meaning mission and a proven character, friends will come to support you.
      • Growing and big business needs support, from staff to customers, to suppliers and the bigger social network.
      • Having a worthy mission helps inspire people. Examine your mission. Are you making the world a better place to attract the support that you need?
      • Are you inclusive enough to accept diversities? Do you welcome and respect different ideas from the wider external networks of customers, suppliers, partners and the social network.
    6. Get Talents– Get support of leaders of power and influence and have worthy pursues.
      • I-Ching often tell us to get support from the “Big People”. People with great wisdom and influence.
      • Some you can hire them.
      • For those who you can’t hire, then get them to sit on your advisory boards.
      • At the very least, join them in their circles.
      • Having mentors is a great thing for your growth.
    Now, if your growth have been impeded much, you may want to go through the above teaching to find out where you need to build and change. All the very best to your health and your business.
    Lim Liat (C) 7 Dec 2011

    Focus – The Key to Productivity and Excellence

    Pick up any management or leadership book, you shall find “Focus” as one of the key factors for success.

    To many, focus means doing one thing at a time. But this is a very narrow definition since a person, especially the higher level people, can manage multiple projects at the same time. I told people that you can be very focused on multiple things. It is only when you fail to accomplish some things that you know you are loosing focus. Otherwise, you are doing well and very focused.

    We have the famous people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates that talk about focus. Here are some of the sayings:

    The above map is a subset of The Integrated Success Principles Version 6.

    It is good to give a definition of focus.

    To me, focus is about concentrating resources on doing the tasks to achieve our goals.

    The components are concentration, resources, tasks/activities and goals. We can loose focus when we fail in any one of the above components. The mind-map below give further details and recommendations:

    A recommended book to read is “The Accidental Creative – How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice” by Todd Henry which cover FRESH (Focus, Relationship, Energy, Stimuli and Hours), the practices for making you a Creative Person.

    Hope the above clarify the meaning of focus and tell you what to do about focusing to achieve success.

    Lim Liat (c) 3 Nov 2011

    Integrated View of the Wisdom of Chinese Classics – Future of Management Now

    In my past post The Future Of Management is Ancient Chinese Classics
    I argued that the practices of the future of management discussed in management books and blogs are in fact something very old. They are found in the Ancient Chinese Classics.

    Here is a integrated view of the Wisdom of Ancient Chinese Classics. I don’t use the term Classical Chinese Wisdom as there are many Ancient Chinese Schools of thoughts. This integrated view is to show the key similarities and differences among the Ancient Schools.

    1 I-Ching
    The foundation of Chinese wisdom is from I-Ching. It tells us that there are unchanging principles revealed by the Creator in the ways the Heaven and the Earth work. The virtues are captured in the 64 Hexagrams. The main virtues are creation and the ‘love and care’ for the created. Man can live well by following and applying the right principles for the right situations and living in harmony with ‘Heaven and Earth’ and with one another. The wisdom is “READ and understand the SITUATION and then apply the RIGHT PRINCIPLES to change the situation for good or preventing the good to decay to bad”.

    2. The Dao School
    The DAO school of Lao Zi recognizes the WAY of operation of the heaven. His main teaching is ‘to follow the WAY and not to work against it‘. Following the WAY will be effortlessly easy, productive and self-sustaining. One of the virtue is LOVE, the soft rather than hard, the pull rather than push, the forgiving rather than punishment. Lao Zi warns that the setting of rules to compensate for the lack of love will not be effective. It can result in legalism where the rules become the goals and be more important than the people.

    3. The Ru School
    The Ru School of Confucius teaches Love (Ren 仁), and love to be expressed with the right protocol of behavior called Li 礼.  Love begins with loving our own, those closest to us before extending outwards. Confucius believes in education. 仁义礼智信勇 Love, Righteousness, Rules of Conduct, Wisdom, Trust and Boldness are the virtues promoted by the Ru School. The key difference between the love of Ru and love of Mo (see below) is that Ru prioritize love according to the closeness of relationships where as Mo stresses on equality. For Ru, one shall love his parents and siblings more than relatives, friends, and then acquaintances and strangers.

    4. The Mo School
    Mo Zi believes in equality of mankind. Love extending to everyone. It stresses on fairness and treating everyone equally.

    5. The Fa School
    This school stresses on establishing strict Laws and Orders by incentives and severe punishments. It is about forcing the right behavior out of people by fear.

    Besides the 4 main schools, there are others popular ones like the Strategies and Warfare School of Sun Zi and others, the Logic School, the Mathematics, the Yin-Yang, and many others. See Ancient Chinese Wisdom.

    The Differences
    The differences among the schools can best be seen in answering the question:

    What if People do not behave well?

    1. I-ching school tells us to study the problem first and then apply the right principles.
    2. Dao tells the leaders to set and lead by examples.
    3. Ru tells us to educate and teach the people the proper conduct
    4. Mo tells us everyone must be treated the same way. There should be no favoritism; i.e. the rich and powerful should not be above the low and poor.
    5. Fa tells us to punish the violators severely so that they can learn the lessons and dare not try to be funny again.

    Here is the mind map that summarizes:

    Application to Management:

    How can the learning here be applied to management and leadership?
    The highest of form of leadership and management is self-management where the people work out from and for themselves. You can find the answers from the above.

    Comparing with the Bible.
    Does not the Bible teaches similar things – servant leadership, Kingdom Principles and Virtues?
    What will be Biblical answers to ‘People not behaving well?’
    Please share your wisdom with me by posting your comments here.

    Lim Liat copyrighted 9 June 2011

    Principles for Success from Steve Jobs’ Speech

    Follow Your Heart – Learning from Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech

    Steve Job’s commencement speech delivered in 2005 at Standford is highly popular.  You can find the video and the transcript easily in the net. Here is one source. I was thinking to use it as an exercise in mind-mapping but I found it was quite challenging as every sentences and words used were important. Steve must have spent quite a lot of time to get his story of life into such a short passage. Nevertheless, I will show you the mind-map, not as condensed as I like but I do not want you to miss out the key details of the story else the touching and motivational will be lost.

    Have Faith & Follow Your Heart in Life
    Most important of all is what I have learned from his speech. If I have to use the least amount of words, a typical requirement for doing good mind mapping, then it shall be in three words, ‘follow your heart‘. To make it more complete, it can be “Have faith & follow your heart in life“.

    More Details – The Seven Principles
    Here is the mind-map of my take away from Steve’s speech giving more details.

    1. Your destination is not determined by your starting point.
    2. Have faith and courage. Follow your heart
    3. Be ever hungry to work hard to learn and grow
    4. Never mind if you look foolish to others
    5. Letting go the rest – pride, fear of embarrassment or failure
    6. Go for things that have value in face of death.
    7. Loving parents & family gives you strong faith to start & to overcome.

    Loving Family is the Foundation for Success in Life
    I wish to emphasize a key point in Steve’s speech that is likely to be missed by most people. It is a loving family. While Steve did not get adopted by his mother’s wish of graduate parents (a familiar reasoning for Singaporeans with the old ‘preference for graduate mother policy’.), he actually got something much better, a loving parents. Love is much more powerful than just intelligence. Emotional Quotient(EQ) is more important than IQ. IQ gets you in the door but EQ gets you promoted and keeps you progressing in life.  How do I know? His parents saved up enough to send him to Reed College, a college whose fees was about that of Stanford. Steve started his Apple company in his parents’ garage, not in Wuz’s parents garage. This show that his parents were very supportive of Steve’ work. We can also see that Steve loved his parents much. He quit Reed College after six months not wanting to waste his parents’ life savings that was of no help. We also know that Steve appreciated the importance of a good family. He was grateful to get married and explicitly stated ‘And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together’.

    I think it is the love of the family that give Steve the faith and the courage to venture out in life; to do things that is out of the ordinary. It is also his support for overcoming the challenges of rejections and failures. He can start all over again. His parents and wife later must have given him a lot of support and encouragement during the time of his firing from Apple and later the starting of NeXt and Pixar. “Love keep me on”. His love and passion for his vision of future must have come from love experienced. (note… I am not aware of the private and family life of Steve Jobs except from what I can deduce from his speech here. If you know more that contradict or support my deduction, please post your comments. Thanks.

    5 Oct 2011 Jobs’ Death: Apple which broke the news also acknowledged Job’s family commitment in its statement on Jobs.  “His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts” said the brief statement.).

    The Full Story Mind-Map

    Lim Liat copyrighted 15 June 2011

    Note: A friend recommended this to read together with this post.

    My additional comment

    No man is an island. Our identity is defined in relationship with others. Our passion is only meaningful with reference to creating value for and serving the community we live in. I think this is the passion of Steve Jobs – making the world a better place thru technology and arts. It is in loosing ourselves that we find our ourselves. Facing death each day helps us find ourselves. Thanks for citing the article to bring forth the other view. For Chinese with the doctrine of mean, we can easily hold both extremes in balanced.
    Apple which broke the news also acknowledged Job’s family commitment in its statement on Jobs. 

    “His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts” said the brief statement.