30 October 2010

The Principles for Greatness: #4 Be Yourself & Leaving a Legacy

Continuing from previous post The Principles for Greatness: #3 Contented Yet Be Better,  this is the last pair of the phrases:
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,壽
Being True to Yourself – Don’t try to be Someone you’re Not

Becoming your true self is natural and is the easiest thing to do. Trying and pretending to be someone that we are not is tough and stressful. Hence, such acting cannot last long.  The first thing in life is to find out what we are good for.  In Christian world, it is called knowing your calling.  We are to believe that we are created for a unique purpose. This also means that we must recognize that will be things that we love to do and there will be things that we dislike or don’t do too well. People call them “Strengths” and “Weaknesses”. But we discussed elsewhere that strengths or weaknesses are known only in the context of requirement. The strength for a task could be a weakness for another task. We just need to accept the reality that we are not superman and we are limited. More importantly, it is OK that we are limited in some ways.
No one is measured on things he cannot do. We are all measured by what we do with ability and talents that we have and not what we don’t. In fact, we are most impressed by people who do things they they are not suppose to be able too. We are impressed by the man who play piano with his toes because he has no hand. The man without limbs live a life that impact more lives than we can do with ours. Don’t be upset by what you cannot do like someone else. They are built differently for a different purpose than you. You have your own unique calling for life.
In the famous Parable of Talents of Bible (Matthew 25:14-30) , both the 10-talent one who made 1o more and the 5-talent one are equally rewarded. Punishment went to the 1-talent one who did nothing with it but just bury it. Don’t be concern with what you don’t have. Try to do something with what you have. You will break free to become your true and useful self. Remember the following:
Focus and build on your strengths* and you become a champion. If you focus on your weaknesses* and if you do succeed, you are just a mediocre average!
Develop your strengths and manage** your weaknesses and you will become a champion.
*Strengths are things that you like to do. The more you do them, the more energized you got. Weaknesses are things that you hate to do. You try to avoid them and if you do them, you get stressed up, headache, and you don’t do well.
**Manage your weaknesses does not mean ignore them. You manage them by outsourcing or delegate them to others who love to do them for you.  Manage involves finding the reliable and right people to do the things you don’t like, delegating, motivating and communicating your needs.
By developing on our unique strengths and doing the things we like, the things we naturally do well, we will excel in them. The success motivates us to do more. Such work don’t tire us. They vitalized us. Hence, Lao Zi said that “Not loosing oneself, just be your true self, and it will last”.

Leaving a Legacy – Your Live On Forever
Not only we want to be our true self, we want to do meaningful and significant things with our uniqueness. We use what we have to impact the lives around us for good. Somehow in the depth our soul, we want to live on forever. While we may not live to see it (for true Christians, you can see it from Heaven), the impact of our lives live on: through the children we brought up, the institutions we built, the friends and relatives we connected with, and so forth. The key question in our mind tend to be, what is the legacy I leave behind?
This legacy, whether good or bad, will out live us. A famous Chinese saying reminded us of this. 明·王世贞《艺苑卮言》卷三:“桓玄子恒言 ‘不能流芳百世,亦当贻臭万年’, If we cannot leave behind sweet fragrance for hundred generations, at least leave behind a pungent smell for ten thousand years. It actually reminds that we will leave behind an influence that will out last us. What is it that we will leave behind will be decided by what we do with our uniqueness of capabilities and limitations.
Find out what are the meaningful and significance things that you like to do naturally.  Meaningful things tend to others centered. They are pro-life, pro-community, pro-environment. Work on them passionately. You will leave behind a sweet fragrance influence that last thousand generations. Guy Kawasaki’ recommends to the entrepreneurs, (my paraphrase below)
The essence of entrepreneurship is making meaning, not money.
Make Meaning makes Money.
Make Money loose meaning and eventually no money.
In summary, develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses so that you can work for long with vitality and joy. Use them to leave behind a meaningful legacy that out live you to last for generations.

The Principles for Greatness: #3 Contented Yet Be Better

Continue from the previous post The Principles for Greatness: #2 Influencing Others & Controlling Self, we discuss the 3rd pair of phrases:
Contentment is richness (abundance).  知足者富。
Striving forward is commitment (determination, ambition). 強行者有志
Contentment is Richness

The common Chinese saying related to this is “知足常乐” contentment is constant happiness.  A big cause of unhappiness and stress for man is the insatiable appetite for more.  Some religion will tell you that man has a spiritual hole inside that only God can fill. Things and people cannot fill this void.  Christianity wants you to fill this void with Jesus Christ. Some other religion will teach you methods to kill the desires.  In the Bible, the book Ecclesiastes calls this the chasing of the winds and names it vanity and meaninglessness. This emptiness is also taught in other religions. Lao Zi emphasize this issue many other verses such as
44 … 知足不辱。知止不殆。可以長久。Contentment prevents shame. Knowing our limits and stopping prevent death.  We are live a long time.
46 …禍莫大於不知足。咎莫大於欲得。故知足之足 常足矣。Discontentment is greater than disaster! Wanting more and more is a greater sin. Hence we must always be contented with what we have. Be contented always.
Interesting, the Bible has almost exactly the same description as Lao Zi’s “Contentment is Richness”.  In 1Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.  The Bible added Godliness. One can only have peace and contentment when we do the right thing and there be no regrets or a guilty conscience.

Going back the original wordings, contentment not just bring happiness, but richness, or abundances or great gains. A contented person does not use up all his resources and cry for more. He lives within his means and have much left over to give and invest.

There is the interesting story of the rich man wanting to help his poorer neighbor 严遵 in this ancient Chinese book 高士传 (Legends of the Heroes) 3.29 严遵. 严遵 lived in a small house and made a living by giving advice (ancient fortune telling) and writing books. The rich man wanted to give money to 严遵 to help get a better job. But 严遵 said that there was no need because he was richer than the rich man. He said the rich man’s workers had to worked hard through the night to make a living but for himself the customers called upon him and he still had money left over that he still did not know what to do with them!

Contentment creates resources for other uses. This links up well with the next phase for striving forward with determination and ambition to be better.

Contentment is Not Laziness
The next phase about striving forward reminded us that being satisfied and contented with the present do not mean that we keep still and be lazy.  In the spirit of i-Ching, we always keep two poles in balance. On the one hand we have contentment, and the other hand we have ambition to improve and be better. Going for more does not mean we are not happy with the present. This means that we know our purpose and mission in life and at the same time strive forward to achieve more. But in the meantime, throughout this journey, we are contented all the way. In the pursuit of our goals, many people miss out in enjoying the journey. Our life is a journey towards a destination. The journey and the destination are both important. If the present journey is not important, as I have told some fellow believers, then God would just take us to heaven the moment we receive Jesus as our Savior.

Contentment with the Present and Even more Satisfied with the Mission of building for a Better Future

The key of greatness is to enjoy the present and at the same time build for the future.  We are happy with the present and also with the hope of improving the situation, for ourselves and others too. Knowing that we are building for a better future now is also a very satisfying pursuit.  Lao Zi encouraged us to exert ourselves fully to the pursuit and don’t give up.  But it is not a pursuit under stress but a pursuit of contentment and confidence. It is only that we are contented at each step of the journey that we have the energy and clarify of mind to take another step boldly into the future. Stress and unhappiness in the journey will cause us to give up without completing it.

Most people fail to understand Lao Zi’s 无为 (No Effort) . Most think it means not to  do anything, or just to sit back and relax and let nature take its course. But he is actually talking about Performance, Accomplishing Objectives effortlessly. It is effortless performance and not a lack of performance. The secret to effortlessness lies in discovering the natural order, the way or “Dao” of the universe, and follow them.

Have a worthy goal, pursue it whole-heartedly. But the secret to success is to be contented in every step and stage all the way to the end.

note: Many thanks to Isaac Teo for correcting the errors and polishing up my  English.

Update: 11 Feb 15

According to Contentment is richness (abundance).  知足者富。
Striving forward is commitment (determination, ambition). 強行者有志,

Poverty is defined as the gap between one's desire and the actual.
A person having a salary of $2000pm and is contented with it, even having saving for retirement, is rich ---- there is remainer and no lack.
A person earning $10,000 pm, wishing to have $20,000 pm, and living on credit, is actually poor. There is the lack of about $10,000pm.

Then 2nd part of v3 tells us that contentment does not conflict with having aspiration ... working hard to build oneself up and doing greater things, ever improving.

A contented person can be working very hard to be better.
A hard working person need not be an unhappy poor fellow.

Richness is not defined by how much you have, but by how much you spent on others.

Lim Liat (c) 11 Feb 2015

The Four Principles for Greatness
  1. The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self 
  2. The Principles for Greatness: #2 Influencing Others & Controlling Self
  3. The Principles for Greatness: #3 Contented Yet Be Better 
  4. The Principles for Greatness: #4 Be Yourself & Leaving a Legacy

The Principles for Greatness: #2 Influencing Others & Controlling Self

Continue from the previous post The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self, we discuss the 2nd pair of phrases,
Mastering others is power and authority.
Self-control is true strength.

How Do We Influence Others? By Pressure of Fear or Willingness?

To control, or influence others, we need strength. But what kind of strength can we use? In time of war, we speak of the strength of our army and weapons.  In business organizations of today, we can influence others through the positions we hold, or the knowledge we have, or the incentives system we give. We can threaten to fire them if they don’t follow what we say. These are external power we are given to drive people by fear or by greed. They are extrinsic motivators. They are effective as long as some one is watching. A more powerful force is intrinsic motivators.  They follow us not because for fear but because they want to. They have trust in us, the leaders, and they share the vision and mission that we are leading them to accomplish.This kind of influence on others can only come when we first show them that we can control ourselves.

Leadership Begins with Self, Self-Control
It is a widely known saying, “We have found the enemy and he is us!”.  How much regrets we have in life?  If only I have kept my shut. If only I can control my temper. If only I have done this earlier instead of procrastinating, etc. etc.  Lao Zi had rightly stated that it is great strength to control others but it is greater strength to control oneself. When we can control ourselves, then we truly lead others. Our influence on others is not by force, but by drawing them to us through our examples.  They follow us that they become what we are – mastery over self.  Confucius says, 《论语· 雍也》篇:“夫仁者,己欲立而立人,己欲达而达人。能近取譬,可谓仁之方也已。The wise man must be able to stand, to be independent first and then help others to be independent. He must be able to be reach his goals so as to help others to reach theirs.  He can learn from those near him. This is the way of the love and caring.

Changing Others Come from Changing Ourselves First
It is typical that when we want others to change their behavior, we give them advices and even threats. But they are not very successful. It often creates the opposite effects and the bad behavior becomes worse. The advice given here is to change ourselves first, especially in the way we treat them. After some time, they will notice and believe our change and will change correspondingly according to how we treat them better. If you are still wondering and struggling as to who should change first, then let me ask you whether you are the leader or the follower. Leader takes the lead and change first.

In summary, when we are able to master over ourselves, changing ourselves first, then we can influence others by the greater force of willingness to follow rather than by fear of punishment or fear of loosing the incentives. We are freed from the needs to constantly monitor and micro manage our staff since they are self motivated, self-directed and self-managed. This is one of the key concept of Lao Zi’s Management without Effort (无为而治)。

The Four Principles for Greatness
  1. The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self 
  2. The Principles for Greatness: #2 Influencing Others & Controlling Self
  3. The Principles for Greatness: #3 Contented Yet Be Better 
  4. The Principles for Greatness: #4 Be Yourself & Leaving a Legacy

The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self

I think the principles for greatness and creating a legacy are found in Dao De Jing verse 33.  There are various good English translations there.  Here is my version and I will like to group them into pairs as follow:
  • Knowing the character of others is wisdom. 知人者智, Knowing oneself is enlightenment.  自知者明。
  • Mastering others is power and authority. 胜人者有力,
    Self-control is true strength.自胜者强。
  • Contentment is richness.知足者富,
    Striving forward is commitment and aspiration. 强行者有志。
  • 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。
1) Knowing Others and Knowing Oneself
The Chinese wisdom stresses on yin-yang. A system exists in context. A concept does not stand alone. We may be single-minded in our pursuit but our pursuit is in the context of a society. Man is not an island by himself.  The principle to greatness is not just about knowing oneself but must include knowing others. We must do both and and then be able to fit the self to others or vice-versa. This is the first principle of my BVITS innovative thinking method – study the system, its context of environment and finding the fit.  Many who read the Arts of War will be able to point out that this is exactly what Sun Zi said “Knowing others and know self will enable us to win every battle”. Sun Zi probably learned from Lao Zi.

Relate and Apply Knowing Oneself to Knowing Others.
This is also a good principle to apply in Strategic Human Capital Management.

From the writing, we can see that first part of the pair is a starting point, is an important point, but the second part is even more important and powerful. I just want to add an unstated, but I think implied third part, which is to relate and to fit  the two.

For example, we must know others, and we must know ourselves, then we take the third step of relating ourselves to the others. Let say that I am an extrovert and I enjoy talking and meeting others. But I hate doing the boring paper-work and submitting reports. So, I must find some others in the team that like to do the things I dislike, such as writing reports, and do not like to meet people. We will make a good team to meet up with customers where I do the human interaction part and my fellow colleague do the reporting part after the meeting. I do all the initiations and all the meetings with people while my friend do all the back ground reporting and also making sure I do my follow-up.  Knowing without action of applying is no use.

Knowing Others – Putting them in the Right Jobs and Relating to Them Well
The management literature is full of articles on talents selection, development, matching of talents to jobs, and talents retention.  There are lots of personality tests like DISC, MBTI, Strength-Finders etc. Much less literature can be found on really understanding a particular person. Ancient Chinese literature places understanding of a man character above others. We can learn a few things from them. In the previous post Strategic HR Management of Ancient Chinese we said no one is unemployable even those with weakness, we just need to place them in the right jobs. This requires that we know the person character better in the first place.

The Heart of Man is Difficult to Predict 人心难测
It begins with  a caveat that it is hard to understand and predict the heart of man. Furthermore, it changes often. The depth and the frequent change make prediction difficult. The famous Tang’s poet  白居易 wrote ‘ 天可度 地可量,唯有人心不 可防。… “The sky and the earth can be measured and known, but only the heart of man cannot be guard against. Once the integrity was red like blood, only to found out that it was all spinning lies.. “.  In 《庄子·杂篇·列御寇第三十二》, it said that Confucius said, “The heart of man is more dangerous than than the mountain and rivers and more difficult to know than the heaven. The heaven has four seasons cycles that is predictable. But man has exterior face that is thick and the deep internal emotion that is hidden. A face that looks honest but heart stirring with schemes. Look like a respected old man but inside full of naughtiness … “. ( 凡人心险于山川,难于知天。…..) Jesus knew man this much so that he did not entrust himself to them (John 2:24).

How : Step 1 It takes Time to Discover One’s Character.
Hence, the typical recommended technique is to observe the behavior through time. Time is key factor. But time is something that we don’t really have. We can’t afford the delay. We can’t wait. To such hurried thinking, I can only offer the advice that if you get the wrong guy/girl, you will have a bigger and costlier mess to clean up. If you are unsure, wait is better. Opportunity goes but opportunities also come. Besides time, what else?

How : Step 2 Observe that His Actions must Match His Words
A typical one is this “听其言观其行” which is translated as “Hear what he says and observe what he does”. This is from 论语 子曰:“始吾于人也,听其言而信其行,今吾于人也,听其言而观其行。于予与改是。” The translation is “In the beginning, I hear and believe that they will do what they say. But now, I will just hear and must observe the action and then form the conclusion. Or in Jesus’ word, Mat 7:16  You shall know them by their fruits.

How : Step 3 From the Eyes or more precisely the Pupils

Mencius (Meng Zi 孟子) 孟子 离娄上 “存乎人者,莫良于眸子。眸子不能掩其恶。胸中正,则眸子了焉,胸中不正,则眸子眊焉。听其言也,观其眸人,人焉廋哉?”. The English translation from this Chinese Text Project is … Mencius said, ‘Of all the parts of a man’s body there is none more excellent than the pupil of the eye. The pupil cannot be used to hide a man’s wickedness. If within the breast all be correct, the pupil is bright. If within the breast all be not correct, the pupil is dull. Listen to a man’s words and look at the pupil of his eye. How can a man conceal his character? or Luk 11:34 The light of the body is the eye.

How : Step 4 From How He Treat Others and How he reacts in different Situations
A Chinese Classics 吕氏春秋中- 论人 has this 八观六验 六戚四隐 (Eight Observation and Six Experience Six Relatives and Four Hidden) Method for knowing a person character. This is what a King needs to do to understand his officers. The Six Relatives are father, mother, older and younger brother, wife and children. The four hidden or interior matters are friendship, old home, city and doors(neighbors) representing how he relates to others in a society.

The Eight Observations:
  1. When he is successful, observe who he entertain and mix with. (only the richer and more successful ones?)
  2. When he is in honorable and high position, observe who he recommends and employ. (capable people or relatives?)
  3. When he is rich, observe who he kept with his money. ( girlfriends? friends for pleasures? )
  4. When he speak, observe also what he does.
  5. When he is not working (literally stop, or rest) , observe what are his hobbies. (what does he do with his free time?)
  6. When he is learning, observe what he is talking. (what kind of books he read? How does he improve himself?)
  7. When he is poor, observe what he reject. (Too poor and hence gain richness by all and any means?)
  8. When he is at a low position, observe what he does not want to do.(Too proud to do ‘lowly’ job?)
The Six experience:
  1. Let (Create the opportunity for) him be joyful and see if he keep his righteous behavior.
  2. Let him be happy and see if he has any bad behavior.
  3. Let him be angry and see his self-control ability.
  4. Let him be afraid and see see if he can maintain his calm and not panic (reactions under pressure).
  5. Let him be sorrowful and see if he can maintain his spirit and not be depressed and give up.
  6. Let him suffer and see his perseverance or ambition.
The first principle of greatness is knowing others and knowing self and to develop our strength and manage our weakness working with the right people that complement us to accomplish great things for all.

How : Step 5 Test Him

In the quotation cited in 庄子·杂篇· above, there is a part that tell us how to know people too as “故君子远使之而观其忠,近使之而观其敬,烦使之而观其能,卒然问焉而观其知,急与之期而观其信,委之以财而观其仁,告之以危而观其节,醉之以酒而观其 侧,杂之以处而观其色。九徵至,不肖人得矣。”
The methods are:
  1. send him off to a distance place to see his loyalty.
  2. keep him close to see his respect.
  3. give him problems to see his ability.
  4. ask him suddenly him to see his knowledge.
  5. give him a short notice and hurry him to see his faithfulness.
  6. give him money to see his caring (ie. reveal his greed)
  7. warn him about the danger and see his control
  8. make him drunk and see his hidden self
  9. send him to a disco and pub to see his sexual lust.
With the nine tests, it is not difficult to pick up the bad ones.
Confucius taught us a 3 phase method in 子曰:视其所以,观其所由,察其所安;人焉廋哉。人焉廋哉。(论语为政十) Know the reason why he does a thing, observe the ways he does it and see whether he has peace after he completes it. There is no way to hide his true self. Here we learn to observe 3 things – the reason, the method and the emotion of the work of a man. (Another possible translation is to observe the how he start, how he continue, and how he completes.)
In summary, know others so that we can place them in the right jobs. Use the methods presented above to observe, to test and to allow time to reveal the true self. Know ourselves so that we can relate and work with them and thereby creating a harmony and synergy for accomplishing great things.
We will continue the discussion on the 2nd principle of “Controlling Others and Self” in the next post.

The Four Principles for Greatness
  1. The Principles for Greatness: #1 Know Others & Self 
  2. The Principles for Greatness: #2 Influencing Others & Controlling Self
  3. The Principles for Greatness: #3 Contented Yet Be Better 
  4. The Principles for Greatness: #4 Be Yourself & Leaving a Legacy
Related: The 3 Virtues for Greatness
Love bravely, be frugal to be generous and put others first are virtues for greatness.