<< Ecclesiastes 9 >>
11 I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
12 Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so men are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.
Where is the Secret of Success?
At first reading, you may say that the passage is a list of failures, and where is the secret of success?
v12 reveals the reason of failure - man are trapped by the unexpected evil times like fish and birds that are caught.
Why are they caught? Because man don't know his hour or his time has come.
Why does man know not? Because Time & Chance happen to them all.
Because Time & Chance happen to them all, relying on just one factor, like speed, is not going to work all the time. The race is not won by the fastest runner or the first mover because there are other factors that happen, chance and time, and disrupt the plan. The rain came and the road becomes slippery, the fastest guy on the dry tract now slip and fall. The slower guy who does cross-country running win the race.
Principle 1 Time and Chance Happen to All - This is a Changing World.
You must be thinking, 'is not this stating the obvious?'.
Yes it is. It is so obvious that we forgot to see it. It fails to get our attention. Most of us live life as if tomorrow shall be the same as today. v12 shows reminded us that many people are caught by surprise. They are not ready for the imminent change.
The Greek has a good understanding of the concept of time. They have two words for it:
- Chronos (时间) - This is the chronological time, measured in years, month, day, second, thousandth second, nanosecond, and now pico-second.
- Kairos (时势) - This is time that mark changes, such as seasons and the trends, the disruptive and structural changes. The event-time, the D-Day and H-hr that a major event get started or completed.
So we can work out principle 2 and principle 3.
Principle 2 Watch and Prepare for the Kairos Change of Event/Trend Time.
We need to recognize the change in the environment around us. There are many factors beyond our control that affect our environment. They are not personal as if someone up there in heaven or down there in hell that is against us. Rest with the fact that it happens also to everyone around us. What we need to know is to face up to the changes. It is better if we could foresee and be prepare for it. That is what the Bible in Ecc 9:11 is hinting to us which we are discovering the wisdom there in.
Principle 3 Manage Our Kairos Activities Time and not the Chronos Time.
What should we be doing is the key thing we need to answer. What should we be doing depends on where we want to go, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years or 10 years from now? What is our vision and our dream? What do we want to become? When we have a vision, we can break them down, work out the what, and the how and the time. In business, that is called strategic planning. Strategic planning does not mean the plans are fixed. Strategic planning helps to tell us which are important and which are now. So that when changes come, we know how to drop the unimportant and manage the important. Dynamic balancing to keep the course in face of changing circumstances is what life is all about. Hence, we has worked out for the need of principle 4.
Principle 4 Have Vision or Dream of Your Life or Business
If you find yourself constantly busy and don't know what to throw or keep then you problem is a lack of vision. Without a vision, you can't prioritize activities and everything seem equally important. Stop now and seat now to reflect and draw up a vision for yourself. Bill Gates tells us to have a vision and Steve Jobs tell us to follow our passion. Your vision should be something that follow your heart and your gifted talents. It will be something that you love to do and the more you do the more energize you get. That is working on your strengths. Your strengths defines the champion you will become. You are not defined by your weaknesses but by your strengths. You develop your strengths and outsource or delegate out your weaknesses. This is principle 5.
Principle 5 Develop Your Strengths and Delegate Your Weaknesses.
Thank God that He created a world full of varieties and diversities. You are uniquely, one and only you. There are many many others that are similar but really very different from you. Hence, Steve Jobs tell us to be yourself rather than trying to be someone you are not. You don't try to live the dream of another.
Secondly, the things that you dislikes most, you can always find someone who would love to do them! Delegating your weaknesses mean to look for someone or some others, to do those things better than you could do them. They are using their strengths against your weaknesses. Guess who can do better? They of course. Delegating does not mean just pass the bug. You can delegate the tasks but not the responsibility. Please communicate much with them so that you can be best served by them.
Now I am going to shock you. Oops! it is not me but the Bible. The Bible tell us that one single factor of strength is NOT enough for long term sustainable success! Read v11 again - the winner is not always the one with speed, strength, wisdom (creative and innovative, the entrepreneur), scheming intelligence, nor the highly educated PhDs! So that leads us to Principle 6.
Principle 6 Have Multiple Factors to ensure Success - One is too risky
I wish I know Hebrew as much I know Chinese so that I can tell you clearly what the 5 factors in verse 11 are. I check up the Hebrew Concordance for their meaning. But Concordance are not real dictionary and is good is telling us approximate, too approximate for my taste, meaning of words. So I can't really tell you the difference between the 3 wisdom related words of wise, brilliant and learned. A pity. I can only make good guesses by checking out the different translations of the Bible and from the 'food', 'wealth', 'favor' associated with the 3 wise-words.
So here are the Five Factors:
- Speed: swiftness, 1st mover, agility, responsiveness.
- Strength: large resources like money, people, powerful weapons.
- Creativity: Innovation, wisdom, knowing the right thing to do. Food from new seeds.
- Analytical Skills: Ability to discern and plans. Scheming. Calculativeness to the last digit so that you can accurately count the wealth. Financial skills.
- Education Levels. The technical skills and titles that you have.
Principle 7 Have a Harmonious Team of Different Strengths.
Since one factor is not good enough to face changes. A combination of different factors will be able handle it much better. How can we get them except by forming a team. However, there is a catch. It is not a team of same kind of people. It is a team of very different kinds of people, some is quick for action where some will analyze forever; some with brain and some with brawn and so forth. The only thing we need for such a diverse team to be successful is for them to share the same vision. The strength of the team is determined by:
- commitment to the shared vision
- the extent of diversity of the team.
Let's round out this post with a nice number 8, principle 8.
Principle 8 Use the Combined Strengths to Detect and Exploit the Chance and Time (a.k.a. Opportunity) and not be caught by surprise.
Use this as a check list to review your life, your work, your business. Are you letting chronos time goes by and not managing your kairos moments. Is it because you don't even know where you are going? Do you even know your strength and delegate out your weaknesses. Do you have a uniform team or a diverse team. Do they share the same vision? Are you all watching the time to catch the change of seasons? Are you looking out for opportunity or are opportunity looking back at you?
Hope you have learned something useful.
If you want to know how to use unchanging principles to handle the changing situations, check out i-Ching posts in Ancient Chinese Wisdom.
Lim Liat copyrighted 28 June 2011.