28 October 2016

The Meaning of Steve Job's "Stay Foolish" - DaoDeJing 71

Steve Jobs popularized the saying,"Stay hungry. Stay foolish.“ is best explained by Lao Zi's "Knowing that we know not is the best wisdom" in DaoDeJing 71
DaoDeJing Chapter 71 Text and Translation

知不知,上;不知知,病。
Knowing that we know not is best [wisdom].
Know not and yet think that we know is a harmful fault.

夫唯病病,是以不病;
Because we are concern about committing a fault, hence we make not any fault.

圣人不病,以其病病,是以不病。
Sages have no fault because they are careful not to commit faults, hence they are without fault.

The Wisest Man
The wisest man is the one who knows that he does not know and hence he continues to explore and learn. He is ever growing and making wise decisions without mistakes because he is aware of his biases and his lack of knowledge and he makes corrections. This is the meaning of Steve Jobs' "Stay hungry and foolish." He is also a cautious person and he will watch, learn and experiment to validate his assumptions and hypothesis. Such is the reasons for the successful serial entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs are not risks takers. They find and examine the risks. They then try to minimize the risks. They only take the calculated risks with high chances of success. That's the teaching of Sun Zi's Art of War --- decisions must be based on complete calculations on the facts of all factors and must not rely on luck.

The Most Dangerous Man is the Know All
A person who thinks that he know all will not learn any new thing. He is most likely to be careless and reckless because he is very confident of his knowledge and decisions. He will fall into his own blind spots.

The best place for us to begin to apply this knowledge is to question all the assumptions of our decision making and also our decision-making logics. What evidences are there to support our assumptions or claims. Are there better methods than our present ones? Who else must we consult to get a better picture of the situation? What experiments can we conduct to validate our claims.

A very good book for the start-up entrepreneurs is The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses: Eric Ries.

Lim Liat (c) 28 Oct 2016
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