11 December 2014

Conscious Capitalism is not Future but Ancient Chinese Confucius Business Practices

The call for Conscious Capitalism is not at all new to the Overseas Chinese Businessmen, who for centuries past, have been following the Confucian values in doing business. They are know as the Confucian Busineemen 儒商 Ru Shang. Here are some poems that describe their values and practices.
From the decade, there are many books written to encourage us to add 'Conscience' to the capitalism of money only economy. Some examples are Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey,  Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism by Patricia AburdeneFirms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose… by Rajendra S. Sisodia etc.

The present concerns with the poison milk power, using sub-standard and industrial materials for consumer oil and foods in PRC and Taiwan, also tells us that such Chinese businessmen also need to follow the call of the West to put our conscience back when doing business. They have departed much from the good practices of their fathers and fore-fathers.

Here are some poems that capture the spirit, the values, and the practices of the Ancient Confucian Businessmen.

Their Values:
必注重民族文化,以“仁义礼智信”为根基,心怀国家社稷,社会责任,遵行商业道德,不取不义之财,讲诚信,重慈善,打造上乘企业文化理念,关怀员工,扶弱济贫,聚人气,兴商机。
Pay attention to race and culture. Foundation of Love, Rightness, Conduct, Wisdom & Honesty. Care for country and social responsibility. Follow ethical business practices. Don’t take money from unrighteousness means. Speak integrity, emphasize charity. Build up top level business culture rationale. Care for staff. Help the poor and weak. Build reputation and raise business opportunities.

Their Practices:
有羽扇纶巾之儒雅,谈书论道之潇洒。晓四海之风土人情,知五洲之名山大川。过目不忘,出口成章。心算数字,脱口而出。三教九流,一见如故。人见人爱,不输当红明星。美德广播,胜友如云。一言九鼎,一诺千金,言出必行。聚拢中华财富,造福黎民百姓
Dress like a gentleman, speak with wisdom and open-mindedness. Know about the culture and lifestyles of the world. Know about the great mountains and rivers. See and forget not. Speak with wisdom. Count with the heart and speak out the answer. No matter who, can be like old friends. Everyone like them and loose out not to celebrities.  Good reputation and win many friends. Keep promises made. Walk the talk. Gather the country wealth and bring benefits to all people.

Their History and Practices:
古有陶朱子贡,今有儒商千万。 Past has TaoZhu ZiGong  Now has many Ru Businessmen.
打造诚信品牌,虽予千金不换。 Build the Integrity Brand  Incorruptible by money.
不求日进斗金,但求无亏无欠。 Don’t seek lots of profits daily. Only ask not to have losses and debts.
力保供求双赢,有钱大家同赚。 Try best to preserve win-win for both. All share the money to be made.
先要成为朋友,再做合作伙伴。First become friends then become business partners.
友谊醇酒醉人,生活香茶一盏。 Friendship is like good wine. Living is having tea together.
经商必先做人,本是儒商高见。Being a person comes before business. Root is key to us.
经商必做儒商,不负今生所愿。 Must be a Ru Businessmen to do business. Don’t neglect the wish of this life.
打下人品根基,自有风光无限。Build a strong character foundation and future will be unlimited.

We can do a google search to findout some of the work and contributions of the famous Overseas Chinese Businessmen like Aw Boon Har (of Tiger Palm fame), Tan Kah Kee, Lee Kong Chian etc.
They used their wealth to build schools, hospitals, charities, support governments in their war efforts against their agressors etc.

Of course, it does not mean that there were no bad business practices and bad businessmen. There were called 奸商 Evil Businessmen and not busineemen. Businessmen are supposed to be honest.

Let's promote such values in business. 


Lim Liat (c) 11 Dec 2014

27 October 2014

Sun Zi's Art of War, WTA Final 2014 and Halep

The WTA Final in Singapore 2014 gave us a rare opportunity to show how strategy, especially of Sun Zi's Art of War could be used in winning a tennis championship. Two Art of War principles will be highlighted here. Firstly the famous 'Know Others Know Self' and the lesser know "Pick an Easy to Win Opponent" principles for winning.
For the usual tennis competitions, there is no strategy to play. The player just have to beat the opponent to rise to the top. However, for the WTA Final, due to the group round robin format, like the world cup, there is possibility of playing strategically. This happened for Simona Halep. In the final round robin match between Halep and Ivanovic, Halep has already gained the entry to the semi-final. While the win or loss does not affect Halep, it does affect the entry of the top seed Serena Williams into the semi-final. If Halep 'allowed' Ivanonic to beat her in two straight sets, the Serena is out and Ivanovic is in. Halep had the total control of the outcome of choosing her opponent in the final! She could choose to meet Williams or Ivanovic. Which opponent should Halep choose for the final? 

We know that Halep finally choose Williams by denying Ivanovic straight set win. Ivanonic won their first set at 7-6. Halep fought back in 2nd set to win it. Ivanovic finally won in the 3rd set.
Halep then defeated Radwanska to meet William who defeated Wozniacki narrowly in the other semi. William beat Halep with a 6-3 6-0 revenging her defeat of 0-6 2-6 by Halep in the round robin earlier. Halep could have won if perhaps she choose Ivanovic since the other players are closer in their ranking.

Strategy is used much in sport. Consider Formula 1 championship. In the past, they disallowed team order. But then recently, they put it back again. In a championship of many races, strategy is of utmost important. You do not want to commit the error of winning a battle and losing the war. True champion does not win by showing off and risk their chance of winning by beating their rivals with a great gap. They just need to minimize their risks, preserve their engine and car, and win by the least margin of perhaps a few seconds only. In the final race, if one only need to come in 5th to win, then there is no need to fight for any position higher than fifth and risk crashing or spoiling the car. These are some of the winning principles from Art of War - Maximizing Returns at minimum risks and costs.

Principle of Know Others Know Self 知彼知己 and Understanding Statistics
Firstly, players must know how they stand against others. Strength or weakness is measured relative to the opponent. So, is Halep a better player than S Williams? For the stats and ranking, it is obvious that S Williams is one step on top the others. Halep's win against Williams was just a statistical large deviation from normal rather than a true structural shift that Halep has become better than Williams. Stats gives us the 68-95-99.7 rule. It could be just a point in the 2 or 3 standard deviation normal distribution curve but it is not from a new population of Halep better than Williams. The abnormal win gave Halep the misguided overconfidence. You can't base you decision on a point of observation when there are many other stats that give a different conclusions. e.g. Williams never loose twice in the same tournament.

Principle of Picking an Easy to Defeat Opponent
This is a lesser known principle. The common and popular teaching on war is to win against a famous and mighty opponent and become the greatest. But that is not the objective of Art of War. Art of War is about winning with maximum net returns using minimum costs and if possible no risk of loosing at all. Here is the original Chinese text about choosing the enemy.

军形第四:Chapter 4 Formation Shape

古之所谓善战者,胜于易胜者也。
The wise warrior of the past choose opponent that they can beat easily.

故善战者之胜也,无智名,无勇功,故其战胜不忒。
Therefore, the victory of the wise warrior, is not after glory, not known from bravery, and hence his victory is never of error.

不忒者,其所措胜,胜已败者也。
Never of error is because his winning method is to win against someone who has defeated himself.

故善战者,立于不败之地,而不失敌之败也。
Hence, the wise warrior stands on indefeasible ground and miss not seizing the 'defeatability'/errors of the enemy.

The key in winning is then not about going after glory, nor reckless bravery and thereby taking on opponent that you have little chance of winning. 

Implication for Business

The successful serial entrepreneur follows in basic principle of maximizing returns and minimizing risks. For any new venture, the first identify the risks, the critical show stoppers, and then take steps to estimate their likelihood of happening, and seeing there be any options that could eliminate or minize the impact of such risks. Li Ka Shing famously said that you must have some business such that even if the sky fall down, you can still make profits. That is the objective function of Sun Zi's Art of War. See Durians, Singaporeans, Li Ka Shing and Sun Zi's Art...

For more, see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

Lim Liat (C) 27 Oct 2014

13 October 2014

Why Apple is beating Samsung, Mencius has the answer!

The release of Apple iPhone 6 that caused big profit pressure the successful Samsung shows the applicability of Ancient Chinese Wisdom of Mencius who said that "Timing looses to Terrain Advantage and Terrain Advantages looses to People's Support".
The major business news on 6-7 Oct 2014 was "Samsung Electronics has forecast a 60% fall in quarterly operating profit from a year ago because of slowing Galaxy smartphone sales." Practically all reports gave the reasons for the fall as the release of Apple iPhone 6 for the high end smart-phone market and increasing competitions from the low-end smart phone from Xiaomi, Huawei of China and Micromax of India. The fall was not due to lack of effort from Samsung during this time. On the contrary, Samsung has anticipated iPhone 6 release and have introduced many new products like S5, Note 4 and many low end models as well. Why then are they not successful? What can we learn from this? What should Samsung do win back? I think Mencius 孟子, a Confucian Master, about 2000 + years ago has the answer.

《孟子 ‧ 公孫丑》 The Book of Mencius, Chapter Gong Sun Chou 
  1. 齊人有言曰:「雖有智能,不如乘勢;雖有鎡基,不如待時。」
    The Qi people has a saying," Having wisdom and capability is not as good have riding the advantage of momentum; Have the farming equipment is not as good as waiting for the right time and season".

    This saying highlight the importance of Momentum due to the shape of the terrain and the seaonal timimg. Just having the resources of wisdom and equipment are not sufficient to ensure succcess.
  2. 孟子曰:「天時不如地利,地利不如人和。」
    Mencius said, " Having the right season and time is worse than having the terrain advantage. Yet having the terrain advantage is worse than having the harmonious support of people."

    This saying rank the 3 key factors of Seasonal Time, Terrain Advantage and People Support with People Support as most important, then Terrain Advantage with Seasonal Timing last.
1. Apple iPhone Set the New Wave - Got the Right Timing. 得天时

When iPhone was first released in June 2007, there was no competitor. Nokia and others were still producing PDA-phones. (Smartphone is a misnomer. iPhone is actually a cloud-device, for connecting to the cloud of knowledge and social network of people. Nokia PDA phone is for managing the personal things of calendar, contacts, and data). The Android partnership that include HTC, Sony and Samsung was only formed in Nov 2007. The first commercially available smartphone running Android was the HTC Dream, released on October 22, 2008. Apple iPhone has a lead of at least a few years. Many consumers were just finding out the difference that iPhone brought to them.

2. Samsung Got the Terrain Advantage - 得地利 
Though the Android phone missed being first, but many of them working together, they are able to produce products with many more features and released them faster and earlier than Apple once they caught up with Apple (may be 2 - 3 years after iPhone 1st release). The eco-systems and supply chain of the Android camp are perhaps more efficient than Apple. However, I had the suspicion that it was not Apple's inability to add features as fast as the Androids but rather, Apple wanted to skretch the life of its products and make as much profits as possible. We known that only Samsung made good profits but LG, HTC, Sony etc were not doing well despite the rise of Android phones due to various reassons. Android phones took the largest share, pushing Apple to 2nd but the victims were Nokia, Rim's Blackberries, the WebOS phones and the WindowCE phones.

3. Apple is the People's Choice Brand - 得人和
It is amazing that Apple only did less well in the times of the rapid growth of Samsung. They continued to make good profits. Apple could take their time in releasing the market demand for larger screen phones, the 5-6 inch ones. Once Apple release the larger screen iPhone 6, the order for the phone broke all records. It even caused the profit pressure on Samsung. It revealed that Apple customers are willing to stick and wait for Apple. How could it be so? It is because Apple does not just make products, but rather make products that touch the heart and desire of the its customers. See for example the mission statement of Apple in What and Who has the Best Mission Statement?
I summarized it as "we simplify and perfect our offering to enable people to have delight, surprise, love and connection." Consider Samsung's philosophy of "to devote our talent and technology to creating superior products and services that contribute to a better global society and to have the power to enrich lives." It sounds great but is very vague.  Which one can you relate to better?

The company that has the heart of the people is able to out do those only address the rational needs of the people.  If you only address the rational value and not the emotional and identity value of your offerings, then you get involved only in the price sensitive for features war. This is exactly where Samsung got into trouble. Its low end products are out competed by the China and Indian brands and its high ends are cornered out by Apple. Apple is selling style, class, fashion, elegance and ease of use. Samsung is still in the features war! Apple should never sell cheaps because cheapness is against the identity of Apple Brand and People's true desires.

See also:

  1. Understand Innovation's Value and Behavioral Econm...
  2. The Twelve Truths of Innovation
  3. Understanding The Smartphone Battle – Rise of Apple...


Lim Liat (c) 12 Oct 14

08 October 2014

What and Who has the Best Mission Statement?

A mission statement must be inspiring to begin with. It should be shown and not just tell. It is best internalized and entrenched. It is shown in the products and services offered. Hence, customers can tell you what your real mission is, Apple is one that achieve the highest standard in inspiration and showing of their mission. We can also learn mucth from the Apple's mission too,
Inspiring.
A mission statement is about the purpose of your existence. It is your identity and the value that you provide to a particular group of people. It gives meaning. It should be inspiring. It differs from Vision statements. Mission is about why whereas Vision is about what at some future point in time. Vision explains what your mission looks like to internal and external people. Values are your key believes that shape your decisions and behaviors; those important qualities and moral standards that define who your are. Getting back to mission, a mission statement must also be inspiring.

Recently, Li Ka Shing, Asian richest man, was reported in ZaoBao of 8 Oct 2014 (Chinese Newspaper in Singapore) that he liked a particular quote in the book "Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. The quote is:

  • If you want to build a ship, don't just drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead inspire them to yearn to set sail for the endless sea.
He further said that if the society can be inspired to set sail for sea, then an Asian Silicon Valley will appear. Hence, we can see the importance of the inspiration in a mission statement. It is of course very sad to see most companies, even the large listed companies, have mission statements that are vanilla statements of what they do. They are just making a living rather than impacting the world.

In Sun Zi's Art of War, the first of the five factors for winning war is 道 Dao, the mission and values of the people. Sun Zi explained Dao as the one that unite the top and the bottom so that they can bravely live or die together. Unity is one of the 5 keys for winning that he emphasized again in the later chapters of his book.

Show, Don't just tell.
If you try to look for Apple's mission statement, you will not be able to find it even in their website or their publicatioins. However, I believe, Apple's Mission is personalized and personified in Steve Jobs. "Making a dent in the universe" is one of his famous quote. He had over the years, created the unique Apple culture that reflected its mission. Steve Jobs believed in showing rather telling. This is in fact a great teaching of Lao Zi. In Dao De Jing chapter, we find the following statement:
  • 是 以 圣 人 处 无 为 之 事  行 不 言 之 教.
    Therefore, the saints do things that violate not the nature order. They are to teach without words (i.e.  teach by examples. The exhortation is not about not to teach, but to teach rightly, by being the model for others to follow). This teaching without words is repeated in Chapter 43.
The mission is not taught but caught and is shown in the way the staff work and in the products and services that they offer. 

Nevertheless, Apple did begin with a mission statement, in 1980s, as
  • “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.” 
But once the mission is internalized, there is no need to state it explicitly.

Internalized and Entrenched - The Culture
Mission statement must be implemented in the company policies, procedures, practices and systems. Also in the building design, office layout, retail space deco, the vehicles and everything else. It takes time and effort for the staff to internalize the mission and for the mission to be entrenched in all the practices. In the long run, it creates the unique culture that give its the competitive strengths. Technologies can be bought, practices can be copied, but culture cannot be easily copied.

Customers tell you your real mission.
The mission best shown in the products and services that the company offer to its customers. Customers are the ones to tell you accurately and truly about your mission.

What is the Apple mission statement? What words come to your mind when you think about Apple?
Simplicity, Elegance, Beauty, Wow, Eaes of Use, Fashionabe, Stylist and Classy, even Sexy. You are right. Those are the key ingredients of Apple's mission. The true mission of a company is in its Brand. Brand is not what you claim but what customers say about you from their experience with you over a long period of time. In short
  • Your true mission is not what you say but what customers say!
My mindmap of Apple's Mission:
Apple's mission can be found, indirectly, in Youtube videos on "Apple - Design by Apple - Intention" and "Apple Ad - Our Signature". Apple called their mission statement, intention and signature. Indeed, your signature is your identity which is also your mission.

Notice that the value that customers appreciate is in how they feel about your products and services. It is all about creating a wow experience that get the customers to ask for more!

Lim Liat (c) 8 Oct 14

06 October 2014

Steve Jobs - Remembering How He Saved Apple

Success is not just about being wise but also about lots of guts to face reality and get help to complement our strengths so as to detect and exploit the opportunity opened by change. Just another tribute to Steve Jobs on this third anniversary of his passing.

When Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, Apple market cap was about US$350B, fighting with Exxon for the world most valuable company. Now three year later, Apple has a market cap of US$600B, the undisputed number 1. This is a great legacy considering the time in 1997 when Steve Jobs was asked to return to save Apple from the blink of bankruptcy. His great turnaround left us many good lessons to take away. Here is my version of the story written some time in 2011 and revised little to be shared as a tribute to a great man.

Here is the mind-map:

His bold vision was backed by his wisdom to see the realities and the guts to face them. His ability to know and exploit his strengths and to seek help even from so called 'enemy' are great lessons for us. A key secret of success, the meaning of a real strategy, is about detecting the change in the environment and then investing in a position to exploit the opportunity opened up by the change. Being able to see innovation not as a product or a service but a integrated eco-system of product and services to provide a wow experience is another good take away for us.

Lim Liat (c) 6 Oct 2014

Related Posts on Steve Jobs here ...


  • Steve Jobs Quotes on Innovation
  • The Least Known Strength of Steve Jobs - Standing On ...
  • The Best Way to Honor Steve Jobs - Best Tribute is by ...
  • Are They Less Worthy than Steve Jobs?
  • Follow Your Heart - Learning from Steve Jobs ...
  • The Secret of Great Innovation from Obama's Tribute to Steve Jobs
  • The Integrated Success Principles Version 6
  • Integrated Success Principles - Adding the 5 Secrets of Richard Branson.
  • 15 September 2014

    The Top Dragon(Top Dog) has regrets. Why and How to prevent it?

    The very first hexagram of I-Ching is Heaven. Its sixth and last stage line has the description of  "Top dragon has regrets". Why the very top dragon, or may be should be the 'top-dog' in English, should have any regrets. He has reached the highest position already, then why the regrets? Furthermore, in my of my presentation on I-Ching, a person asked, "then how do I prevent the regret?". The intention of the author of I-Ching is to warn us first so that we can prevent the predicted disaster from happening. Since the warning is given, the how-to prevent must be elsewhere in the I-Ching book or else the author has just given useless warning.
    Why the regrets?

    I think there could be a few reasons. First regrets is about good time is coming to an end. A Chinese has a saying, “夕阳无限好,只是近黄昏”, The setting sun is extremely beautiful but it is near dusk and the night is coming. I may be now the chairman of the board, but very soon, they will have a retirement party for me. My good and glorious time is coming to end soon. There is no way to prevent or escape it. We really don't want to go into a stage where we only want to talk of the good old days. The second type of regret is even worse. Of all the achievements and wealth that we spent our time and effort to gain and accumulate, we now find that they are of not much use. They may not worth the costs (the health, the broken relationships, the rebellious children etc) we paid to get them! We may not live long enough to enjoy them. Someone else, who is unrelated and even did not put any effort to get them, get to inherit them. This is one of the reason cited in Ecclesiastes, "Vanity, vanity, everything is vanity and meaningless". (See The Meaning of Life from the Wisest, Richest and Most Powerful King) All our effort and life working to gain things that are meaningless! What regrets will that be?

    How to regret not?

    The two reasons for regrets are 'ending soon' and 'meaningless waste of life'. The answers will be finding the meaning of life and create a lasting legacy. These answers are found in I-Ching.

    The Meaning of Life According to I-Ching

    The teaching of I-Ching can be summed up as creating a better world of abundance and flow by having a harmony with heaven, earth and men. The purpose of life is not just about self and self alone. It is about having harmony with men, mother nature and creator God. How? By creating value like #1 Creator Heaven and caring for others like #2 Mother Earth. By giving and sharing our best with others who also give of their best to us as in #11 Greatness from Interactions. Then, #32 Lasting teaches us how to create legacies that last.

    What does the top dragon have?

    When we have grown to be the top dragon, we must have mature and accumulate a lot. What does growth mean in I-Ching? By going through the hexagrams that contains the word 大 great, we can find the following hexagrams (taking from my book "I-Ching for Success in a VUCAD World"):
    • #16 Enjoy and Passion: Have passion that cause you to start and sustained the achievements of your life.
    • #59 Dispersion: Have great ability to expand your business through out and influencing many people and their lives.
    • #26 Large Accumulation not just of wealth but really of character strength.
    • #34 Great Strength of character, wisdom, power and resources to do great things.
    • #14 Great Possession and hence don't hoard it but to use them wisely to benefit the world as per the purpose and meaning of life.
    • #28 Excessive of boldness and strength to bring forth great transformation.
    • #64 Uncompleted - knowing that there are more you can do and learn despite what you already can and own.
    What to do with the Abundance of Wealth, Ability and Power?

    Looking up my I-Ching book on "Entrepeurship III Success", we have a key phrase for it. It is the 'Joy of Sharing". By using the great possession and ability that we, the top dragons have, we do #14 worthy projects, #42 benefiting others from our overflowing increase , #48 preserve and share the valuable assets, #55 Abundance is for sharing with others. Wealth is not measured by how much you hoard but by how much you give and use for benefiting others. It is therefore not surprising that such wealthy people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Li Ka Shing and many others give away much of their wealth and spend time in running many charitable organizations.

    The purpose and meaning of life is about building oneself and then helping and sharing with others to make this world a better place for all and to leave behind a lasting legacy that continue the contribution while we are not longer around.

    Lao Zi has a great saying on this, in Dao De Jing chapter 33,
    (see The Principles for Greatness)
    • Not losing oneself will last.不失其所者久,
    • Died and yet one’s legacy continues is long life.死而不亡者寿。
    Here is a mind map that summarizes the Purpose and How-to of Life from the wisdom of I-Ching:


    Lim Liat (c) 15 Sep 2014

    31 July 2014

    Durians, Singaporeans, Li Ka Shing and Sun Zi's Art of War

    Durians, Singaporeans, Li Ka Shing and Sun Zi's Art of War, what have they in common? This common element brings out the secret of the success of the super-rich Li Ka Shing and the essence of the Art of War of Sun Zi. It is also a characteristic of Singaporeans that will ensure their success in the competitive world. Find out this key word and apply it well in your life.
    Durian is a very pungent and tasty fruit well liked by many in South East Asia. Here is a picture of durians:

    The Durian Business Model
    The problem is, the tasty part of the fruit in inside and you cannot see. Though you want the flesh to be creamy, sweet, slightly bitter, and very small seed, you can't really tell (unless you are an expert) from the outside. You may run the risk of paying a lot for the fruit only to discover that the 'flesh' inside is no good (not ripe or too watery, with big seeds). So, the Durian Sellers come out with a good business model for you, the customer. The model is "Guaranteed Good to Eat" (Bao Jia 包吃. You can pick and they will open up for you to eat. If it is no good, you don't pay for it. They replace another one for you. You only pay for those you eat. If part of the opened durian is good and part is bad. The bad part will be replaced from another durian. That is a sure win and safe model for the customers even thought the price may be higher than you pick yourself.  It is also a sure win model for the suppliers too as the costs are covered in their supplier chain and the not good durians can be used in making durian cakes and other products.

    The Secret of Li Ka Shing's Success.


    李嘉诚说: 做生意要记住:手头上永远要有一样产品是天塌下来你也能赚钱的
    Li Ka Shing: Must have some business such that even when the sky falls down there is still profits to make. Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, also quoted this particular Li's statement in his talk too. Successful serial entrepreneur are NOT merely risks taker. They are the minimizing risks takers. They identify the key risks and find out the likelihood and take measures to protect themselves for such risks. If they can't, they just go into such unmanaged risky business. If common people take such approach, the con men will have a much harder time trying to cheat people.

    The Singaporeans Key Attributes
    Singaporeans are recognized for their KiaX's - The most famous one is KiaSu, translated as Afraid to Loose. For details see The Kia-Su Kia-X's Uniquely Singaporeans - Mindset... The inverse of afraid to loose will be 'guarantee to win' 包赢 Bao Yea. This is exactly what Li Ka Shing said above ... make sure you can still a profit no matter what happens, even if the sky falls down. 

    The Objective Function of Sun Zi's Art of War
    If we don't study Sun Zi's Art of War well, we will think that the key principle of war will be maximizing destruction, especially of the enemy.  However, a careful study of Sun Zi's Art of War will reveal that Sun Zi has an objective function, like in Operation Research Optimization, for war and it is Maximizing Benefits using Minimum Costs. You can see it clearly in the following quotes from his book:
    • Chapter 3v3.4 必以全争于天下, 故兵不顿, 利可全,
      An all out win by absorbing the enemy's resources and so looses no soldiers & gain all benefits 
    • Chapter 3v1.3 是故百战百胜, 非善之善者也;不战而屈人之兵, 善之善者也。
      Winning every battle is not the best. Win without a battle is the best.
      (i.e. there is no need to go for war that consumes resources. The enemy just surrender without a fight.)
    • Chapter 11v2 合于利而动, 不合于利而止
      Move only when there is gains. Stop when there is no gains. 
    • Chapter 12v2 非利不动, 非得不用, 非危不战
      Fight only on gaining advantages, benefits, or in danger
    • Chapter 2v4  4 故智将务食于敌, 食敌一锺, 当吾二十锺, 萁秆一石, 当我廿石。
      The Wise take over the Enemy's resources (rather than destroy it).
      It is worth 20 times more!
    • Chapter 3v1.2 凡用兵之法, 全国为上, 破国次之; 全旅为上, 破旅次之; 全卒为上, 破卒次之; 全伍为上, 破伍次之。
      The methods to use the force are: best to take the enemy' city in tact rather than destroy it. Better to capture the battalion than to destroy it ...
    Sun Zi Art of War is actually the Economics of War with an objective function of maximizing benefits with minimizing costs. Sun Zi is actually the great great grand father of Operations Research!

    The secret of Apple's success was descibed by Philip Yeo as "it was designed for dummies“. See The Message behind “Philip Yeo’s Apple Aps’ gullible dummies.

    The Golden Rule for Designed for Dummies is
    • Minimum effort with Maximum Returns” or “MaxValue@ZeroCost”

    So, here is the question for your consideration.
    If you have to pick an opponent, which of the following would you choose?
    1. An weak opponent that you can easily defeat and no one think much of you.
    2. A strong opponent so that when you beat him everyone sing your praises.
    Your answer reveals your understanding of Sun Zi's Art of War.

    Lim Liat (C) 31 July 2014

    24 July 2014

    Mind-Mapping to Gain More with Less On Design Principles

    There are many wonderful things we can learned from the internet Cloud. But we will benefit a lot more with a little more effort by drawing a mindmap about what we learned. Here is one on design principles.
    Here is a good article on design, the Design Philosophies From the Masters where it gives 13 inspiring quotes about design.

    13 is a bit too many for our memory retention. By drawing a mind-map about thr 13 quotes, I was forced to understand them better and ended up with only 4 principles on the tecnhique for design. Here is the mind-map for design principles:
    The first two branches are strategic statements that we need to design well and design is about coveying  ideas for not just ease of understanding but also motivating enough to cause the reader to do something about it. The next four are techniques for design -

    1. go for harmony of diversity and not uniformity (let the strength of diversity show up but be not in conflict with each other but be supportive of each other).
    2. Simplicity with hidden depth and not just simplicity alone. The technique that I recommend and use is the principle of MiniMax ---- minimize the number of features we want but of the features selected, we go into greater depth to deliver the highest value.
      See also Mind Value: 10 Design Rules for the Dummies
    3. Differentiate - Be bold to be different from the common at least in just one small way.
    4. Emotional - The outcome should cause a Wow response to say I want it. There is a quote that says I don't care about what you say but I will never forget how you make me feel. 
    Lim Liat (c) 24 July 2014

    Inside vs Outside - Is Batman right?

    Want to exercise your mind on some deep thinking?

    Try this quote from 'Batman Begins'

    "It's not who you are underneath. It's what you do that defines you."

    Sounds like DengXP's "Not white or black cat. The one that catches the mice is a good cat".

    Do you agree?

    Consider this:
    • James 1:24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 
    • James 1:26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
    But, what about this:
    and this
    • "for we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." (Rom. 3:28)
    • Matthew 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
    • Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
    • Matthew 23:27 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.
    How to resolve this Inside-Outside mess?

    The answer can be found in this Japanese Proverb:

    Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.

    So, Batman is only 50% correct if you are a kind teacher, else we can say such extreme view is completely wrong since half truth is actually a lie.

    West vs East Mindset
    This is the typical western mindset of Either OR.
    The Chinese mindset of Yin-Yang will think of it as a coin with two sides, the head and the tail. A head side does not exist without the existence of the tail side.

    The Chinese mind set has a set of fixed priniples based on values but are flexible in its applications. ( 仁义为本,权变为末). The application of the principles must always fit the people in the situations that they are in. To the superficial observer, the Chinese systems seems inconsistent, one time this, one time that. But the consistent principle is fit. Jesus said in Mark 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins."

    In today medical practice, it is called personalization ---- health supplements must fit the nature of the person's bodies. This is actually ancient TCM concept.

    See Confucius as the Best Coach - Personalized Teaching

    Don't be just a screwdriver and think that the world are all screws. Neither do we think we are a hammer, if we are not a screwdriver, and think the world are nails to be hammered!

    Know about how they think differently from us, whether we be East or West, see
    East West Fusion Mindset as a Key and as Simple as ABC

    Lim Liat (c) 24 Jul 2014

    14 July 2014

    The Dao of Heaven is Abundance From Giving - DaoDeJing 81

    True wisdom is understanding the extremes and maintaining the right balance. The Way/Dao of Heaven is the abundance that comes by giving. The Law of Mulitpling Returms from Giving, works for the natural world and also for man. These are very similiar to the teaching of the Bible too.

    The first and last chapter of a book are probably the most significant part of the book. Lao Zi's Dao De Jing begins with  道可道,非常道 the Dao that can be described is not eternal Dao, telling us that the true understanding of Dao cannot be fully expressed in our limited langauge and mind. Nevertheless, he spent the remainder of the his book describing what the Dao is and how it works. The conclusion in Chapter 81, ends with:
    圣人不积,既以为人己愈有,既以与人己愈多。
    The saints accumulate not. He that serve others possesses more. He that gives to others gain more.
    天之道,利而不害;The laws of heaven bring benefits without any harm.
    圣人之道,为而不争。The law of the saints is serving without competing.

    The Law of Heaven and for Man is then about the multiplying effects of giving and serving without fighting to gain for oneself.

    Most scholars and teachers think that Lao Zi is teaching us about selflessness, no action and the following of nature. But by going through the chapters of Dao De Jing as we have done, we can find that Lao Zi is teaching us about enlarging our self to include all, that we may give to all, and that the Law of Nature works by multiplying back the giving and returns in abundance of lives and things. It teaches us to serve and to give of ourselves and our possessions and that will bring forth a better and a more abundance world.

    Here is the details of Dao De Jing 81 expressed in mind map format together with the relevant and similar Bible verses for your reference and reflection:
    True Wisdom is:
    1. What is on the outside and the inside may differs. Pleasing words, especially flattery words, are not trustworthy. It also works in reverse, trustworthy words, speaking the truth, may be hurting to us. We should guard ourselves against words that charms us. That is how con man deceive people.
    2. Arguing to convince others may to be right way to fully persuade a person. Arguing may just makes a person more defensive and angry and could never be convinced. The good and persuasive person works on our thoughts and desires first and walk through our reasonging that we may discover for ourselves our own errors and do our own correction without any arguments!
    3. Since time and effert are limited, if we want to understand something deeper, we need to narrow down the scope. On the other hand, if we want to see something in perspective, we should broaden our scope. By going higher up to see farer and going down to see the details, we get to understand a subject better. Don't misinderstand this verse to stop us from being broadminded or being an expert in a narrow field. There is no value judgement in the verse. It is just statement of fact of constraint and we need to know how to work the constraint that we face in life. Choose wisely.

    The Secret of Abundance is:
    The secret of abundance is counter-intutive. We thought we should accumulate to get more. But in a world of interdependency and exchanges, it is the more value we give, the more returns we will get. In a network work, the multiplying effect works both way, for good or for bad. The Dao of Heaven, the Order of Nature, or the Will of God will ensure this law of multiplication works all the time.

    Lim Liat (c) 15 July 2014

    09 July 2014

    How Wise Are You? Lao Zi can tell in DaoDeJing 27

    Can wisdom be measured? Lao Zi thought so and gave some very high standards in DaoDeJing 27.  It is about perfection without traces, zeor defects and 100% people being taken of, including the good and the bad people. Wisdom is ever learning and teaching others all the time. It contains the elements of love to care for all and also to do them quietly without seeking any glory. People who claim they are wise and yet not helping others are still in darkness. Dare to challenge yourself and see if you measure up by looking at the mind-map below:

    DaoDeJing 道德经 27:

    I have included wisdom from Confucius and Jesus Christ that have similar sayings in the above mind-map. Lao Zi said that any good work should leave no trace for people to praise you. Jesus said that we should not let the even the other hand know what one hand is doing! Confucius' famous saying on love includes the part to help others too, when one is able. It is like Jesus saying do unto others what you like others do unto you. Lao Zi said that love should be included in true wisdom. Wisdom without love is still blur! People who are self-centred and without concern for others are actually not wise.

    Hope you gain some lessons from this teaching like I did as shown in the mind-map.

    Have a good and meaningful day with showing some concern for those around you.

    Lim Liat (c) 9 July 2014

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    A Leader Holds Things in Balance and Reject Not -- DaoDeJing 28
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    04 July 2014

    Anchoring & Reflecting to Master Change and Stress - DaoDeJing 26

    Two keys for sustainable success in this busy world of changes is recommended by Lao Zi. They are a strong foundation and taking frequent rest to ensure the actions follow from the foundation. They apply to our personal life and also to the businesses that we run.
    The world of increasing changes and competitions cause many people to be overly anxious and active. Being busy, or too busy, is perhaps their way to resolving their worry;giving no time to worry. They confuse busyness as productive activities. They should recall Parkinson's law that says "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion". Distracted by their present successes to ignore the impending changes.

    How then can we tell what are the meaningful and important activities ?
    We must first have a set of foundational values or principles to be the measuring standards.
    Then we just have to monitor all activities through the lens of our values and principles. Stephen covey principles centered leadership. Jim Collins uses level 5 leadership, hedgehog principles of sticking to the cause, the vision.

    Here is the translation and interpretations of Dao De Jing 26 in a mind-map format:

    Application 1 Worry and Stress:
    Are you under great stress? Are you anxious and not knowing what to do? Are you miserable and angry?

    Lao Zi suggests that you take a break, a rest to reflect on your values of life. What are the values you should hold on to and are you deviating from those values? If there be any deviations from your values, then take the actions to correct them. If there be not, then have the peace that you are doing the right things and continue on even though it may seems difficult. The best cure to worry and stress is to face them and examine your values and the facts.

    Application 2 Corporation Renewal:
    Businesses often fail when they leave their original values due to the busyness brought about by their success. Apple was built on elegance and simplicity of use. Over time, they just build lots and lots of products hoping to increase the revenues. They got into big problems that the original founder that they fired earlier, Steve Jobs, was brought back to save the company. Steve Jobs did the very thing that make Apple successful. He killed most of the products and go back the very busy of making Mac computer with translucent and sexy exterior and ease of use OS (based on Next).
    What were the original values and value propositions that make your company successful?
    How are you implementing and releasing those values in your products, services, solutions and branding? How are your making them?

    Lim Liat (c) 4 July 2014

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    How Wise Are You? Lao Zi can tell in DaoDeJing 27
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    26 June 2014

    Genesis - The Origin & Four Greats by Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 25


    The Origin of and the Answer for man. In DaoDeJing Chapter 25, Lao Zi tells the origin of man, earth, heaven and the Way(Dao). It all begins with the great 'I AM'. Lao Zi's account is extremely similar to the account of the Bible as recorded in the book of Genesis. He also provides the answer for how man should live on earth.
    I find DaoDeJing Chapter 25 account of the origin very similar to the Biblical account. Hence, I put them together show them in the mind-map below for your consideration:

    Putting the 4 greats in order, we can see that the "I AM" (The beginning and ending) God create the Order of the Way of operation of creation, then the universe (heaven), then the earth (as a star of the universe) and then when all is ready for living, the man. The solution then for the problems of life is for man to follow the ways of nature, universe and the Way of God.

    See also The Big Bang Theory, DNA and Lao Zi's Dao in DaoDeJing 21.

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    Anchoring & Reflecting to Master Change and Stress DaoDeJing 26
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    24 June 2014

    Leadership Singapore Style and Ancient Chinese Wisdom

    Attended FGB Gatekeepers dinner with a talk given by Lim Siong Guan who wrote the book "The Leader, Teacher & You". Mr Lim is one of the pioneering leaders that help build Singapore and so his style of leadership may be called the Singapore Style. I am doing much work on Sinlogy or Ancient Chinese Wisdom and I find many things of what he said could also be found in Classical Chinese Philosphies.

    Some key points (read the book for more) in the talk that had my attention were:

    Positional Leadership - They need to learn from past, adapt to the present, anticipate for the future. Consider this famous Chinese saying, 宋·范仲淹《岳阳楼记》:“先天下之忧而忧,后天下之乐而乐” The leader worry first before the people worry and he is only happy after the people are happy. It shows the foresight and the farsight of the leader and his love for his people.

    The mission should be contant but vision need to be renewed. The Book of I-Ching provide a complete set of guidance of what to keep and what to change for the 64 Hexagrasms or situations and virtues of life.  See I-Ching in One Minute for Abundant Life

    Personal Leadership:
    -- Not position but followers;
    -- Not popularity but results;
    -- Not preaching but Examples.
    -- Not privileges but responsibilities.

    Leadership is 
    • from the front, 
    • side, 
    • back and
    • inward where the people has internalized the attributes of their leader.
      I-Ching #1 乾 Heaven/Creation, line 7, 用九 群龙无首 吉 Dragons have not leader. Good Fortune.
      Or Lao Zi's the highest level of leadership is invisible. When the people have completed it, they said they did it all by themselves. Levels of Leadership - Can We Measure Leadership?
    In my courses, I ask the question of where the CEO should stand with the choices of
    1. at the front leading the troop
    2. in the middle working with the managers
    3. at the back strategizing
    4. at the sidelines cheering the troop
    5. all the above.
    I was in fact discussing this question with friends on my table before Mr Lim's talk. I was pointing out the the Chinese mindset and the Western mindset are very different. The Western mindset tends to have fads that changes with time. The Chinese mindset is always "It all depends on the particular situation". One at the table mentioned that I was not commital. But the true wisdom is always not jumping to a conclusion for prescribing a fixed formula to all problems. The correct answer of course should be choice 5 but it is only completed is you list down that particular situation for the right type of leadership. It was very interesting to have Mr Lim talking about this issue.

    Success of Singapore is based on its values of honour - honouring one another, integrity, honesty or essentially righteousness. It reminded me of Mat 6:33 seek ye fiest the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added to you. I-Ching teaches us "利者,以中和也“ Profts come from harminizing with righteousness.

    Maslow' s 8 stages Needs Model.

    The revised version add 'others' into the original self centred 5 stage model.

    Consider Confucius‘ sayings on love 仁:
    1. The Active or Positive Attitudes:
      忠是「己欲立而立人,己欲達而達人」。
      Faithfulness is "Wanting ourselves to stand up(be indepedent) to help others to stand up too. Wanting ourselves to be successful to help others to be successful too."
    2. The Passive Attitude:
      恕是「己所不欲,勿施於人」Empathy is what we dislike we don't do it unto others.
    Consider how Confucius defines greatest in How Great are You? Let Confucius Tell you.
    • The 3 Levels of Greatness
      1. Sharing of Material Wealth/Goods.
      2. Right Use of Power. No self-glorifying and abuse of others.
      3. Love for the People of All ages. Care for the aged, trust for friends and upbringing of the young.
    Consider too, the even higher dimenision of Lao Zi in Who is the Greatest? The Unsung Hero and Lao Zi
    • What does Lao Zi teach us about being greatest?
      It is not about self proclaimed greatness nor wanting people to praise to you. 
      It is not about doing something to gain reputation or money for self.
      It is about meeting the needs of the situations or people, quietly doing them and doing them tirelessly.
    The Comprehensive Leadership Styles:
    A more comprehensive leadership skills covering the actions for various situations can be found in
    4 Basic and 5 Orientation Principles of Leadership from I-Ching

    The 4D Leadership Evaluation Model:
    A good way to measure the quality of leadership can be found in The Superior Mindset of A Leader - The 4 Dimension...

    To build up such 4D Leaders, we need to develop the man according to The Multi-Brains Whole-Man Thinking Framework for succeess in the VUCAD world.

    Hope you see the broadness and depth of Classical Chinese Wisdom and its applicability for this model world.

    Lim Liat (c) 24 June 2014

    23 June 2014

    Going against the Law of Entropy to build Lastingness by Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 23

    Have relationship problems? Let Lao Zi shows us 3 aspects to get them right. Do you share the same values? Do you truly walk out your values? Are you willing to sacrifice for your values? If so, you are building lasting relationship.
    Nature shows us that everything is temporary and changing. The Law of Entropy tells us that everything moves toward randomness over time. Yet in this DaoDeJing 33, Lao Zi gives us a twist from his usual advice of following the law of nature to tell us how to build permanence in the world of temporariness. He talks about how to build lasting relationship and gives us three aspects of Dao(values), De(Vrituous Character - the Level of Attaining the Dao(Values), and Sacrifice in relationship building.
    The details of Dao De Jing 23 are shown in the mind-map:
    Why is this chapter 23 talking about relationship?
    The chapter begins with natural events like storms and rains are temporary and then ask about how can man escape from such temporariness. The last statement speaks of integrity and trust or rather the lack of. In the middle, Lao Zi shares the tree key concepts of Dao( The Way of Nature or Values in this context), De (the attainment of men to reach the Dao) and the Sacrifice or Loss in maintaining the Dao. It speaks of agreeing, following and welcoming one another. So, we know he is talking about building lasting relationship among people.

    The 3 Aspects of Lasting Relationships:
    The first aspect is Dao or Values. Those who walk together must agree and shares the values to start.  Confucius reminded us that if we don't share the same values we cannot walk together (literally plan together).  Before you start any relationship, even a business relationship, please make sure the partners share the same values. It is good practice for the church to encourage couples to marry someone that share the same faith. Otherwise, the relationship cannot last. It will if only one of them change his/her faith to agree with the other. Business partnership also follows the same rule. Without the same values, the business practices will differ.

    The second level is De the actual realization of the Values that we claim we share. This is a measure of the maturity of the virtuous character (according to the shared values) each person has reached. It is about walking out the talk of our beliefs. A believer marrying a non-believer shows the lack of believe in his or her own faith. Of course, some will give the excuse that he/she will become one once they get married. The wisdom is that if one cannot change before the marriage, one will surely not change after the marriage since the motivation to do so will be less.

    The third level is the one of sacrifice or suffering losses. We are face with various challenges in this world. There is possibility of our own neglect or moments of burn-out that we fail to keep our promises. Then there is the lure of temptations or the pressure of threats and persecutions from others that cause us to bend our values and under deliver our promises. In face of suffering, will we still stick to our values and promises. If so, the relationship will strengthen further after such challenging sacrifices. Sacrifices are truly measures of the true values we place in the relationship.

    What to do with broken promises?
    We need to admit our failure and go back to where we have failed and recover from there. Did we fail because of external threats or temptations or just our burn-out? Or in fact we have different understanding of the values that we thought we shared? Seeking clarification, forgiveness and restart will help to build better and longer lasting relationship. We have to earn back the trust that we have lost.

    Lim Liat (c) 23 June 2014

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    21 June 2014

    8 Keys for Sustainable Success by Lao Zi in Dao De Jing 22

    How to sustain your current success? Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 22 gives 8 keys. It is easier to summarize them into one word - Humility for ease of recall. But knowing the details of the 8 pointers are keys. Here is the mind-map.
    We can apply Lao Zi's teaching to my nation of Singapore. Few will disagree that Singapore is successful. But the cracks are showing. The leadership and the people must take heed to work together as before when we build the nation. Let's learn from Lao Zi.
    Some people say that success is hard but sustaining it is even harder. So it is a popular saying that wealth does not last through three generations. There are a few studies to support that saying. In fact, many do not even last through the 2nd generation. What can be done to create lasting organization and personality? Lao Zi give us 8 keys in Dao De Jing 22 and they are captured in the mind-map below:


    The 8 keys are also the sttributes of a lasting vitue called humility. There are other lasting virtues like love, joy, peace.  But high level and high sounding terms like humility and love are easily misunderstood. Many people have different definitions for them. The 8 keys do provide the details to explain humility in a better light and also giving us the how for applications to create sustainable success.

    Go through the 8 keys and list down what actions you can take to sustain your success. Else, to recover from failure will be tougher job.

    Lim Liat (c) 21 June 2014

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    Going against the Law of Entropy to build Lastingness by LaoZi in DaoDeJing 23
    More:Ancient Chinese Wisdom

    07 June 2014

    The Big Bang Theory, DNA and Lao Zi's Dao in DaoDeJing 21

    Lao Zi encouraged us to study the signature of Dao that we may discover how it all begins so that we may follow its patterns for living. The Big Bang, Quantum Physics, Genetic Codes are probably hinted by Lao Zi. Let's look at it with an open mind.....


    With the advancement and discovery of Science, we get to understand Lao Zi's descriptions of the Way of Dao better. The flickering, blur, deep, dark, mysterious take on greater meaning with our understanding of quantum physics, subatomic particles, big bang theory, expanding universe on the physical science on one hand and the DNA codes of the biological science on the other hand. Lao Zi encouraged us to study the traces of the Way to discover the origins of life and the universe. They did not appear randomly or just like that, but come through a process that we can study, appreciate its beauty and follow its patterns. The patterns are virtues for living. This is similar to I-Ching with its 64 hexagrams denoting 64 states of events but also represent 64 virtues as guides for man to live by.

    Here is the mind-map for Dao De Jing Chapter 21 the Signature of Dao:

    Lim Liat (C) 7 June 2014

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    05 June 2014

    Bee Gee's 'I started a joke' resonates with Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 20

    When you pursue things that are different from the world. The world will laugh at you. Your success becomes their ridicule. That was the feeling that Lao Zi had when he wrote DaoDeJing chapter 20. He explained the cause of stress, how different was his values against the world and he persistence pursue to live with and by the Way of Dao though he may be ridiculed.
     Dao De Jing original text, translation and interpretation are given in the mind-map below:


    The cause of much stress and worry is men's pursue of knowledge to gain more. More wisdom, glory, wealth and whatever. Men has become so worry and afraid of many things. Lao Zi has a different set of values and pursuit. He is so different, almost opposite, of the world that they ridicule his lifestyle. But he remains persistence in his values. His last sentence is:
    • 我独异于人, 而贵食母 
      I alone am different from others, and I value sucking from mother.
    • Mother, used by Lao Zi, refers to the Great Way of Dao.
      See The Secret of an Easy & Refreshing Life - Let Mother Nature do the Work.
    • So, Lao Zi's life purpose is to discover the Dao and live in and get nutrition from Dao.
    • This reminds me of Jesus' word, Matthew 4:4 NIV Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
    • Lao Zi is telling us that man is also spiritual and needs spiritual pursue of Dao.
    • By following the Way of Dao, life can be meaningful and stress free.
    Lim Liat (c) 5 June 2014

    Previous: Better Life is to Go for Simplicity & Purity says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 19
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    04 June 2014

    Better Life is to Go for Simplicity & Purity says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 19

    Better life does not come from accumulation of more but rather giving up to have less. Greed knows no ends.
    Since young, we are taught to study hard, get good degrees and then earn a lot of money or be in high governmental positions. Such is typical of the thinking and wishes of many Chinese parents. But Lao Zi suggested that a better life is to gain for simplicity and purity or authenticity. Be true to ourself is more important than gaining glory and wealth especially at the expense of others.

    Here is the mind-map for Dao De Jing 19 with text, translations and link to Chapter 3 The Problems and Answers for Men According to Lao Zi and a Bible reference to Luke 12:15.

    Lim Liat (c) 4 June 2014

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    02 June 2014

    Moral Laws are for the Sinners says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 18

    Lao Zi and the Biblical Paul agreed on the purpose of Laws - Laws are meant for the sinners.
    When the Way of Dao is lost, we then need to put up a set structures to cover-up our lost and make us look good. Some think intelligence, some science and technology can create this utopia. But intelligence without integrity will create a bigger mess faster. Lao Zi did not tell us the answer to return to the Way of Dao. He may some hint and glimpse in Chapter 4 The Way is the Son said Lao Zi. This reminds us of St Paul's saying that the purpose of Laws was to reveal sins.

    DaoDeJing Chapter 18 text, translation and interpretation with relevant Biblical verse is given in the mind-map below:
    Lim Liat (c) 2 Jun 2014

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    30 May 2014

    Be True to Your Calling says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 16

    Be true to yourself. Be not someone else. The nature works that way and so we should follow.
    Lao Zi observed that all things did not change from their origins. No matter how they grow, they always go back to their roots. He called upon us to be faithful to our uniqueness and try not to be someone else. Violating our calling is just inviting troubles. Yet if we stay true to our calling, our legacy will live on though we may be no more.

    Here is the mind-map for Dao De Jing Chapter 16 with translations and interpretations.

    Again, Lao Zi's teaching reminds me of the corresponding teaching in the Bible, namely, Eph 2:10.
    See also You are a Masterpiece Created in Christ Jesus.

    Lim Liat (c) 30 May 2014

    29 May 2014

    The 9 Attributes of The Way of Dao - DaoDeJing 15

    Lao Zi tried his best to describe the Way of Dao to us. He gave nine attributes of Dao. Surprising, it is very similar to the Bible 9 attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. His last one resonates with Steve Jobs' stay hungry and stay foolish.
    This Chapter 15 begins by resonating with Chapter 1 that the Way(Dao) is beyond man's ability to grasp fully but nevertheless, Lao Zi try to give a best description of what Dao is. He give nine attributes of Dao ending with the last one of humility, never to think that one know all but continue to renew oneself. This reminds me of Steve Jobs' famous speech of "Stay hungry, stay foolish". The nine attributes of Dao also reminds me of the 9 attributes of the fruit of the Spirit as given in Galatians 5:22-23. The matching is really quite close. Check it out for yourself.  

    Dao De Jing 15 Text, Translation and Interpretation:

    Lim Liat (c) 29 May 2014

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    For more Chinese Wisdom, see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

    28 May 2014

    The Way(Dao) is the Invisible Power Keeping the Creation in Order says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 14

    Understand The-Way(Dao) and you can master life. However, Dao is not physical to allow you to sense it and measure it. There is nothing to compare it with. Yet it is the Power that keep all things working in proper order. You can also know the Way of Dao through discovering such orders and then you can apply it to master this life.
    Dao De Jing 14 Text, Translation and Interpretation:

    Here is the mind-map:
    DaoDeJing 14 Unmeasurable Greatness Of Dao
    We usually use our senses to try to understand this world. That is the scientific method. It is but the basic step. But it is insufficient. Because by that sense method, what we cannot sense does not exist and there are many things exists beyond our senses.

    Lao Zi tells us there is Power and Order beyond our senses and even beyond our language and mind. We can only understand in parts. Nevertheless, even with the little understanding of the working of the Way of Dao, we can master this present life. We can know what is right and wrong and how to manage this world better.

    Lao Zi wrote 81 short chapters to describe the working of the Way(Dao). There is a book that precedes Lao Zi’s Dao De Jing that described working of the Way more systematically. It is the Book of I-Ching.
    To know more, please see Manage Change with I-Ching, or Ancient Chinese Wisdom.
    Lim Liat (c) 28 May 2014

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    The 9 Attributes of The Way of Dao - DaoDeJing 15
    More:Ancient Chinese Wisdom

    26 May 2014

    Greatness is Not About Emptying but Extending says Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 13

    Lao Zi tells us that man concerns greatly about glory or disgrace because of the existence of his 'self' alone. To rid the worry, then the self must be changed. Most people will think that Lao Zi means 'emptying' the self of one's ego or pride. However, Lao Zi actually means the self needs to be extended from self alone to include everyone in the world! This resonates with Jesus saying of loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31).
    Dao De Jing Chapter 13 text and translation:
    1. 宠辱若惊, Adoration and contempt are things that shock people
    2. 贵大患若身。The main concern is the disaster falling on one's body.
    3. 何谓宠辱若惊? Why have adoration and contempt such shocking effects?
    4. 宠为上、辱为下, Adoration from others lifts up one's pride and comptempt lowers one's pride.
    5. 得之若惊,失之若惊,Gaining or loosing them creates shocks.
    6. 是谓宠辱若惊。This is why adoration and contempt are shocking.
    7. 何谓贵大患若身? Why is disaster falling on oneself the main concern?
    8. 吾所以有大患者,为吾有身。The reason is because oneself has only one own body.
    9. 及吾无身,吾有何患?If oneself has not one's body only, then how could one be worry?
    10. 故贵以身为天下,若可寄天下;Hence, if one can treasure the world as oneself, then the world can be entrusted to him.
    11. 爱以身为天下,若可托天下。If one can love the world as oneself, then he can be entrusted with the world.
    The Twist - The World and I are One.
    Verses 1 to 8 talks of the great impact and concern of glory/fame and disgrace/insults on people.
    Verse 9 proposed the simple answer - the problem is the existence of one's body.
    The twist is in verse 10-11. The proposed solution of removal of a single one's body is not about emptying of one's ego, esteem or pride as most people or some religions would suggest, but rather, extending the lone body of self to include everyone under heaven! Such a person can be entrusted to run the nations. The government can be upon him.

    The teaching of Lao Zi's is not about selflessness to emptiness but rather about broad heartedness and mindedness to include all into oneself. Lao Zi speaks much on the love of the Way of Dao.

    If we go back to the last verse of DaoDeJing Chapter 7, we find ..,
    • 非以其无私耶!故能成其私。
      Is it not because he has no selfish interests ? And therefore able to achieve self-actualization.
    So, self-actualization, the self is still there and is the objective, is about loosing it to gain it back! Jesus said in Mark 8:36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

    Including everyone into us is too great a concept to grasp. We may fall into the trap best said by the famous Peanuts Cartoon Character Linus: "I love mankind! It's people I can't stand! "

    Jesus makes it simpler for all us in "to love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31).

    Now that the Big-Self exists, the issue of Honor/Glory/Fame and Dishonor/Shame/Disgrace are concern of everyone and not just a small-self of me alone. Honor and Dishonor are matter of right and wrong, good and evil. We can see that in Mencius' teaching of 4 virtues with knowing shame as the attribute of righteousness.

    孟子 “四端”: Mencius Four Unending Virtues

    1. 恻隐之心,仁之端也;compassionate heart is the beginning and ending of love.
    2. 羞恶之心,义之端也;feeling shame and evil is the beginning and ending of righteousness.
    3. 辞让之心,礼之端也;giving way to others is the beginning and ending of good manners/conduct.
    4. 是非之心,智之端也。knowing right and and wrong is the beginning and ending of wisdom.