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

    Using the Yin-Yang Thinking Framework to Discover and Learn More

    The “Bipolar Yin-Yang” Thinking Framework (See Yin-Yang Thinking Framework – Innovative and Critical,) can be used to help us understand and even extend our learning from the teaching of great Teacher. Below is an illustration using a famous teaching from Zhuang Zi of the Dao School.  It was shared with me by my brother in an email. The subject title:

    The Way to True Happiness in Life—8 Chinese Words 化解自我,虚而待物

    Translated: Forget about oneself, handle things with humility and gentleness (as if empty).

    The Illustration
    子曰:有一个人乘船渡河时,被一艘空船撞上,这个人脾气再坏,修养再差,也不生气。但如果船上有个人,他就口出恶言了。前面那一次,他无所谓,因是一艘"空船"。 如我让自己处于”空船"情况,行走世间,又会与谁发生争执呢?所谓"空船"即化解自我。
    有"我"的执着,就有相对的"你"。我与你总是有强有弱,有优有劣,有成有败。人若无执,则不得已化解於无形,随遇而安,见鱼而乐。 人生如何体验?只有一个办法,就是指出其自相矛盾.  (请参考 傅佩荣

    Translation (in meaning only):
    When on a boat crossing a river, you are hit by a boat. If the boat is empty, we will not be angry if even we are bad temper. However, if there is a person on the boat, we will break out with hurting words.
    So, if only we can stay with this concept of ’empty boat’ to handle things in life, we will never have a fight with another. This is about forgetting oneself, or our self interests.

    Because of the existence of me, there is therefore a concurrent existence of you. Between you and me, there always will be comparison of strong and weak, good and bad, success and failure. If we are not such self-aware and not insistence having my way, then we can make ourselves as if non-existence, no form nor shape, then we can meet up with whatever situations and be at peace, and be joyful with little things like seeing fishes and knowing they are swimming happily.

    How cane will experience life? There is only one method. That is to point out the contradictions.

    The question I had was whether I can build on this and discover other things.
    So I apply the Yin-Yang thinking framework to see.  Yin-Yang Thinking Framework – Innovative and Critical,

    Here is the Chinese Version showing the Sequence of Steps and the Thoughts:

    1. 如果’我’是阳. 我的对比不是’无我’ 而是 ‘他人’ 或简短的 ‘他’
    2. 那么更深一层的思考是 要想到’他人’的利益或好处.
    3. 把’船’ 改成 ‘车’ 来用到现今的时代. 那我们的故事可以这样:
    4. 在繁忙的马路上, 被别人的车撞上, 如果是救伤车, 里面还有病人, 我们就不会很生气. 我们会尽快解决, 或者甚至算了, 叫他们快走.
    5. 顾及他人, 损己利人 是易经 41 损卦的教导.  助人为快乐之本也!
    6. 损:有孚,元吉,无咎,可贞,利有攸往

    Application of Yin-Yang Thinking Framework – The English Version

    1. We find the two poles. The opposite of ‘I’ is not “no I” but ‘others’ or at least ‘Him’.
    2. So, we do not just forget about our own benefits, we should think about the benefits of him or others.
    3. We update the means of transport from boat to car.
    4. In a busy traffic, if we are hit by a car, we will be upset. But if we are hit by an Ambulance carrying a sick person in an emergency, we will want to quickly settle the issue and get the ambulance on its way. We may even forget about the damage to our car and wave the Ambulance off.
    5. The principle for happiness in life becomes “Caring for Others. Taking from Oneself and Benefiting Others”. This is in fact the teaching of I-Ching Hexagram 41損 Decrease – Give, Invest, Less is Better(need to register). Or see ‘Less is More 41損 Decrease’ ( It is a common proverb that helping others bring joy to oneself.

    If you are a Christian, then the secret of happiness is “from Me to Him”. Focusing on Him, Jesus Christ, our Savior, will bring joy to our heart. We have the famous hymn, “With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm!”.  Most of the problems and suffering in our life is the focus we have on ourselves – our needs, our pride, our face and our hurt. True joy is found is shifting our focus “from me to Him” or if you are a non-Christians, then “Shift focus from me to others”!

    Lim Liat copyrighted 18 Sep 2011.