Behavior of Winners – Learn from Confucius

Successful people behave differently from the common people. Winners act differently from the losers. Here is some guidelines from Confucius about how wise gentleman shall behave. Does the list give you some new pointers to improve your behavior?
Confucius said, “Wise Gentleman has nine considerations: 孔子曰:「君子有九思:

  1. 視思明,See with clarity.
    Enterpreneurs have special keen eyes to spot the opportunites for new business whereever and whenever they make visits. They notice the difficulties that workers have in doing their jobs. The makeshifts temporary solutions to make the job easier. The environment noices and cleanliness where the job was performed. The frequent stoppages and interruptions. For many people, they could not even notice the new hairdo or new dress that their spouses have put on!
  2. 聽思聰,Listen with understanding.
    Listening is not just about paying attention to what is said. It is also about hearing what are not said and the real meaning for the speech. If there be any lack of understanding, it will be good to ask to clarify if possible.
  3. 色思溫,Facial Expression is to be gentle and welcoming.
    It is easy to be rude to people. Just give them some faces or looks. A smile is very attractive.
  4. 貌思恭,Manners must be respectful.
    Giving respect begats respect. If you show respects to others, others are more willing to teach and guide you.
  5. 言思忠,Speech with integrity/honesty.
    Praising others are good but it should be done with sincerity and truthfully. Otherwise, the praises without sincerity actually become insults. It is easy for people to tell. Even though we are encouraged to tell the truth and be honest, we must know how to cover the truth with grace. Truth could be cutting and hence when we speak it, it has not be done in love.
  6. 事思敬,Work with excellence(respect for the work)
    There is the saying that any task worth doing is worth doing it well. The pursue of excellence is the foundation for all great work.
  7. 疑思問,Ask when in doubts (don’t blur through it)
    If there by any doubt or lack of clarity in our thought, then we should ask questions to get the right answers. Not asking because of loss of face or mere laziness show our lack of learning and improvement.
  8. 忿思難,When angry, consider the potential bad consequences before blowing up.
    It is easy to let it out and let the other have it when we are angry. It takes great self control to hold our our outburst and use it as a starting point to find out. Emotion acts as your emotional “sensors”. They are to be indicators of reality, not fabricators or framers of reality. … Ravi Zacharias.
  9. 見得思義。When seeing profits, consider getting them righteously」
    When offered an opportunity, it is easy for us to jump at it and take advantages of. But we must consider the rightfulness of doing it first. Profits from short-cuts, cheating, beating the laws are but temporary. The consequences on self and related others could be worse in the longer term. The best way to make money is to make them righteously. It will be long term and you can sleep peacefully.
If there be one word that unit the nine considerations, it is about taking interests to know more about whatever you may find yourself in. Having the interest to know more about things and people will enrich not just your knowledge but also the people relationships. You interests in others triggered corrsesponding interests in you by the others.
Hope you pick up some pointers for improving yourself.
and for more Chinese Wisdom see Ancient Chinese Wisdom
Lim Liat (c) 10 Apr 14

6 Types of Prisons and the Story of Great Men that Fall – Wisdom of I-Ching #47 困 Boxed-In

I-Ching gives us 6 types of prisons that also reflect the life story of those great men and women that started with almost nothing, achieve great success, and ended with a great fall. Heed the wisdom of I-Ching to get success and sustain it.It is commonly acknowledged that the greatest sin is Pride. Pride is the downfall of many greats, including even Satan, the chief of the devils, according to the Bible. Then there is the saying of 3G temptations that bring down many greats too. The 3G stands for Glory, Gold and Girls(or Guys). Glory is related to Pride. Gold is related to riches and wealth. Girls/Guys is related to sexual lust. In I-Ching, there is a hexagram #47 困 Boxed-In or trapped that give us 6 types of prisons.

They are:

  1. Prison of Darkness – Lack of knowledge or wisdom. The solution is obvious – learn and acquire to wisdom to gain the light and see the way out of the prison.
  2. Prison of Pleasures – Loosing oneself in drinking, dinning and wild partying The advice from I-Ching is to save the money on partying and give them to charities instead. Giving may bring the true happiness of inner joy rather than from external simulation of food and wine. The Bible book Ecclesiastes 7:2-6 says that it is better to be in the house of mourning than of feasting because in mourning one can learn and be wise and all the feasting and laughter will only make fool out of us!
  3. Prison of Hardships and Oppositions. Going forward is met by stone and yet staying put is like resting on thorns. To break free, one has to consult Hexagram 40 解 Freed – Get with Decisive Actions.
  4. Prison of Riches. Riches and wealth have much power. But somehow with human, we then to get proud and use them wrongly either wasting them on our own luxurious livings or bullying others.
  5. Prison of Power. We can easily recall the popular statement, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
  6. Prison of Anxiety. As the world becomes even more uncertain, people worry more and more and suffer from depressions.
The 3 Prisons that We may have Igorned

Compared with the 3G(Glory=Power, Gold=Riches, Girls=Pleasures) mentioned earlier, the three new prisons introduced by I-Ching are Darkness, Hardship/Oppositions and Anxiety.

6-Stage Life Cycle of Great Men/Women
The Life Story of Those Great Men/Women that Fall There is also a progressive relationship among the 6 types of prisons (this is a principle teaching of I-Ching). The beginning prison of darkness is the lack of knowledge. When we get smarter and richer, we may be trapped in pleasures. However, if we get smart and break free from it by continue to work hard and expand, we then encounter the next stage of more and more opposition. Overcoming obstacles and hardships brings forth riches and riches bring forth power. Now that we have riches and power, we may begin to worry about loosing them. Is not this the life history of many great men and women that started with nothing? If only they study and heed the wisdom of I-Ching, they may be able to maintain their success and progress to a greater height instead of the big down fall.
For more on I-Ching, see Making I-Ching Come Alive! The Key Principles & Applications and even more with Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Lim Liat (c) 10 Feb 2014

SunZi’s Art of War – The Misquotes and Keys that are missed even by the Experts

A famous book like SunZi’s Art of War is likely to be quoted partially. Even so, there are already much wisdom to be gained. But, having the full quotation will lead us to greater success. We look at the famous quote, or misquote, of “知己知彼,百战百胜  know self, know others, win every time”. Yet, the best strategy is to win without a war. Having peace in the world is not about just building more powerful weapons and larger military, but more importantly, it is to build better well being and sharing for more people so that there is no reason for war. That’s the heart of Sun Zi.
What has Sun Zi’s Art of War to do with Christmas that have me to write about in this season of peace and joy? Much, if you know the heart and purpose of Sun Zi’s Art of War.
Let begin with the famous quotation, or mis-quotation.
The source of Know-Self-Know-Others can be found in two places in Sun Zi’s Art of War book. They are shown below in the mind-map:
There are 3 key errors: 
  1. Order.
    • Know our enemy first, and then we can compare ours against the enemy.
    • Most people look at themselves first to claim their strengths and weaknesses. That is incorrect.  Typical SWOT analysis begins with listing your own strengths and weaknesses. That is an error. We should look at the external Opportunities and Threats first and then back to your strengths and weaknesses to address those opportunities and threats.
    • Furthermore, our strengths or weaknesses can only be determined in comparison with the enemies that we are going to fight with and with respect to the theatre and timing of our operations.
    • Strengths and weaknesses should be determined from the external. In a business, the external are competitors and customers, the markets, industries, and locations that we operate in.
  2. Not Win every time but Not Loose every time.
    • It is a secured position but need another two factors to ensure a win every time.
  3. The Two More Factors: Know the Heaven & Earth – i.e. The Right Timing and the Right Terrain to take advantage of.

There are Four Factor

  1. Know-Other,
  2. Know-Self,
  3. Know-Heaven: the Time & Seasons,
  4. Know-Earth: the terrains and the positioning. or the market and industries, the PESTEL factors
How do we know others and our strengths or weaknesses. Sun Zi proposed 7 measures. See Sun Zi Art of War-3: Health Check with 7 Measures.

Sun Zi however tells us that knowing something is better than knowing nothing. Knowing self and not knowing other bring us 50% success rate at times. The worst case is, not knowing anything which will result in 100% failure.

We need the two additional factors of knowing Heaven and Earth to ensure completeness.
How to appraise a situation is given in Sun Zi Art of War-4: Appraisal & Prediction.

Even Better is Not to Go to War – How to Win without a Fight .
Another misunderstanding about Sun Zi’s Art of War is the purpose. It is not a book that teach us to win every war. It is in fact book that teaches us how we need not go to war! Sun Zi say the best strategy is to win without a fight! Fighting will result in destruction and deaths that both sides will suffer. The better way is to build oneself up such that others will not dare to take us to a war. They surrender voluntarily. Other better strategies will be to defeat their plans before execution, negotiate for win-win for all, and war is only the very last resort. Even if have to, win it quickly without much losses of lives.

See Sun Zi Art of War-5: The Principles for Good Strategies

How to Build a High Performance Organization that others will respect and follow.
The heart then of Sun Zi’s Art of War is about building an organization or nation that other will respect and follow rather than trying to dethrone you.
See Sun Zi Art of War-6: Leadership Skills and Creating HPO

Having peace in the world is not about just building more powerful weapons and larger military, but more importantly, it is to build better well being and sharing for more people so that there is no reason for war.

Hope this post encourages you to look deeper into Sun Zi’s Art of War.

Lim Liat (c) 25 Dec 2013

The Highest Form of Leadership – Leaderless

The best form of leadership, for this VUCAD world, one that is adaptive and sustainable over time, is leaderless. But you don’t get that kind of leadership overnight. It can only be built overtime with right people and a simple principle of remaining leaderless. Surprised? Read the details….

Who should Microsoft choose to be the next CEO? Some one that can compete with Google and Apple ? No says Ancient Chinese Wisdom Book I-Ching. An Invisible Leader says Lao Zi. Lou Gerstner who saved and transformed the ailing IBM says, “It is the culture only”. So, pick someone who can build the self-managed leaderless culture.

What is the highest form of leadership? 
According to I-Ching, the Book of Change, it is leaderless.

A key hexagram in leadership in I-Ching is #1 Heaven – The Creative Force. See Learning from “I-Ching” Part 04 1-乾 Heaven – Creative Force. In it, it lists out six stages of growth for a ‘dragon’, representing an able person, from learner,  to executive, to manager, to entrepreneur, to Chief Executive Officer (CEO), to retiring chairman. Then it adds a seven grand summary stage with description of “用九”:见群龙无首,吉。”. Translated as “Use Nine: Seeing a host of dragons without a chief. It is good fortune.” A group of dragons without a chief is a stage of good fortune! In the commentary added by Confucius or his disciples, we find the following:

  • 乾元“用九”,天下治也。Heaven/Creation is great. Use Nine and the world is ruled well.
  • 乾元“用九”,乃见天则。Heaven/Creation is great. Use Nine is the model of the rule of heaven.
So we can see that the best or the good fortune stage of an organization is leaderless.
The good fortune is seen in the following:
  1. a host or a group i.e. an organization or a community
  2. dragons : more accurately, mature dragons that went through the six stages of growth. They are independent persons with good virtue of character and ability.
  3. without a chief: There is no one designated as the chief or commander to direct others around. The people know what to do for the good of the organization. When face a crisis, may be the best person to handle it will take the lead and others will contribute according to their best abilities. When the situation changes, previous leader hand over to the next one who is most able to do the leading.  He that is able takes the lead is the leadership model of the Ancient China before formation of Dynasty when the kingship is handed to the son. Such leadership model ensures the organization always has the best person to run it. It is self-renewal.
Building the High Performance Self-Managed Leaderless Organization
Such a high performing self-managed and self-sustained organization does not come just like that. They must fulfill the 3 criteria listed above, namely, an organization, dragons, without a chief.
  1. Shared Mission & Values: An organization or a grouping of people must have common mission and values as the glue to bring and hold them together.
  2. Dragons – Talents Development. We need to hire and develop the talents and make sure they grow up in character and ability. In I-Ching, we can find the details those qualities and know-hows in the 64 Hexagrams and 386 stage lines of wisdom.
  3. Leaderless – The Best One Lead: The organization needs to have a simple rule on leadership. There is no fixed leader under normal operation. When there is a crisis or a need, then the most able one to address the need take over as the leader. When the issue is solved or resolved, the leader steps down and the group return to leaderless mode.
The important one to note is that such a flexible self-manage organization needs to be built over time. But we now have the guidelines to build such an organization. In the present commercial world, there are more and more organizations adopting such a self-management model. The most popular one is The MorningStar Tomato Company  http://morningstarco.com/index.cgi?Page=Self-Management.
See also Levels of Leadership – Can We Measure Leadership?, where Lao Zi tells us the highest level of leadership is the invisible leader. This also shows Lao Zi’s actionless principle in action. See The Tao Bible in One minute .
If you are still doubtful, consider the purpose of parenting. The job of parents is to develop their children from dependence to independent mature adults. The job of CEO is then about developing their staff to be capable and engaged staff so that they can be independent and yet co-operative staff to achieve the mission of the organization.
Lim Liat (c) 8 Nov 2013