19 November 2016

Pride is Getting Ahead of Ourself - DaoDeJing 24

Pride is simply trying to get ahead when we lack the ability. We are impatient to build and so we go ahead and say we can. Lao Zi gives us six areas to take note in DaoDeJing 24.
DaoDeJing Chapter 24 Text & Translation:

企者不立,跨者不行。
Tip-toeing to stand-up from the crowd cannot stand for long and will fall down.
Taking big steps cannot move fast for long and will stop.

自见者不明,自是者不彰;
Only seeing our own views is not wise and others cannot understand us either.
Self-righteousness does not gain the respect he seeks.

自伐者无功,自矜者不长。
Self-praising does not bring the recognition.
So sure of one's ability does not grow.

其于道也,曰:余食赘行。
Dao calls them leftover foods and hunchback walk.

物或恶之,故有道者不处。
All things dislike them. Hence those with Dao virtues do not do them.

What is pride?
One usually says pride is boastfulness. Lao Zi gives us eight areas to watch out for and uselessness to show we can when we really cannot. The reality will eventually reveal itself. 

The Six Areas
  1.  One-upmanship - Trying to be taller than we actually are. So we stand on our toes to appear taller. Standing on our toes have two problems. One it is not steady. Secondly, it is tiring. So we will eventually have to go back to our normal height and not have a fall. Our lesson is to build a strong foundation first. The taller the building, the stronger the foundation is needed. 
  2. Faster than the rest - To move faster than normal, we take bigger steps. But we can't do that for long because it is very taxing on the body. We can run but we cannot run for long. We have to stop after some time. Many people think that first mover has advantages and even propose that we fire first and then aim. The fact is, moving too fast without careful consideration of the risks will lead to failure. First movers often have to pay the price of development and refinement of technology to get it working in the real working environment. Potential customers may have to learn how to use it. Develop and education will burn up lots of cash. It may not be leading edge but bleeding edge. Furthermore, if the entry barrier is low, others can quickly catch-up and overtake you. 
  3. Seeing only your own viewpoint. A typical engineer error is thinking that if we build it others will definitely buy it. We are upset with people who do not understand how great our invention is or how wonderful our proposed solution is. Instead of trying to understand their viewpoints, we call them stupid and stubborn. That will end all discussion and business.
  4. Self-Righteousness. I know all and I am always right. We think people will think highly of us when we are always right. We cannot admit our mistakes else others will laugh at us. We live with stress and worry to make sure we don't make any error. If there be any error, we will blame others for them because we cannot afford to be wrong. However, real reputation and trust are not built that way. It takes guts to admit our error and to try to improve. People can see the mistakes and appreciate our frankness and our attempt to correct it.
  5. Branding is Boasting. We think we must people how good we are so that people can be impressed. However, self-praise is discounted by people who hear it. It is must better for others to praise you. Branding is not just advertisements, but the opinions of customers over a long period. Branding does not come immediately. We may hire and pay for celebrities to use our products or services. But those are just the first impression. Real branding comes from experience with the use of the service or products. The best we could do for branding is to make our products and services good and enable the customers to easily rate it and spread it.
  6. Self-Confidence doesn't bring grow. If we think are already know something, we will not spend any time to learn more about it. Our understand stays where we think we know. Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 56 says those who know keep quiet but those who don't talk as if they know. It is better to follow Steve Jobs' "Stay hungry. Stay foolish" so that we may be ever learning and growing.
Our Prideful Behavior Stinks
While we may think that our 'marketing' words are impressing people. Lao Zi tells us that they really stink. They are comparable to the leftover foods that we used to collect and feed the pigs. So, we do not really get the results that we want. 

How come we still do them? 

Lim Liat (c) 19 Nov 2016
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