21 April 2011

The Secret of Joy in Changes – I-Ching Hexagram 17隨 Following

Most people dislike changes. This dislike grows with age. Maybe the process of aging reduces one vitality and strength and causes us to resist change. But aging should not be an excuse for us not to learn and face up with the changes. New brain research tells us that as we exercise our brain more, it grows new brain cells and we can become wiser. Our ever learning attitudes will keep us in good health.

It would be great if we are the ones triggering the change, either as entrepreneurs who start new businesses or as intrapreneurs that are breaking new grounds for our companies. But the real world is full of changes. Mostly caused by factors beyond our control.  Even so, I-Ching tells us the secret of how to enjoy the change.

(Note: For those initiating the change, they can consult i-Ching #03 屯 Sprouting – Starting is hard).

The hexagram to check up is #17隨 Following – Adaption & Contentment (subscription is required).

It tells us to follow the change. If it just tells to accept the change and follow it, then it is not much of an advice as most people could tell you that.

I-Ching goes much further to tell you how to have the joy in the change.  Below is the summary reproduced from the article for sharing with you with my additional comments.

Summary of 17隨 Following - Joy in Change:
  • The ‘ hexagram #17 Following’ tells us about seeing the change – facing it openly so that we can do the following steps.
    • learning about it
    • adapting to it, and
    • be happy in it by mastering it.
      ( Most likely you have heard that Crisis in Chinese is spelled 危机 Dangerous Opportunity or Risky Opportunity! There is the opportunity in crisis and crisis in opportunity. This is the typical i-Ching Yin-Yang Thinking. So, do not just see the danger but see the opportunity hidden in it so that you may bring out the opportunity in the crisis or to convert the threat to opportunity).
  • We don’t hold on to outdated practice. Confess that our mind is opened and we are prepared to experience new things. Don't be bound by fear. Step out to experience the new life.
  • The only things that should not change, and will help to ride the change is to hold on to the unchanging principles of integrity and righteousness. 
  • While the technology, politics and other human systems may change, human characters and needs do not.
The 6-stage lines give us additional teaching as follows:
  1. Ideas and Friends can change but moral standards should not.
    • Changes cause us to learn new concepts and new realities. Most frequently, we meet new people and make new friends. But our ways to handle them must be with integrity and righteousness.
    • Japanese was praised worldwide for their good behavior in the recent 9.0 earthquake and tsunami (March 2011). Under such a crisis, they maintain good order. There was no looting or fighting but a lot of helping and encouraging one another.
    • Most of us do not encounter such a devastating crisis. Typical situations are losses in business, loss of jobs, investments and of loved ones. We need to continue our lives in the new situations. Sometimes we are even upset by minor things like someone cutting into our lane while driving, how silly!
  2. Don’t major on the minor and loose the major.
    • When changes come, what was important in the past may not be important now (except for moral standards). This may lead us to hold on to old things that of no value now and lose out on doing the new things that are important.
    • Consult the people who had adapted or even adopted the new things. Learn from them. Let go of our outdated concepts.
    • Old age is not just physical but in the thinking. When we stop to learn, we age. This brings us to the next advice.
  3. Major on the major and win.
    • With the new understanding of what are the important things, learn and master them well. We may take longer than others but we can catch up and even outdo them.
    • Don’t be fooled by those who think you must be first. First movers have some advantages but not always and not insurmountable.  We can let the first movers get on the bleeding edges. Let them spent the money to learn the lessons and we just follow well and learn from them. We can be the real leading edge that benefits from the change. (Note: the First mover does have advantages. But whether the advantage can class depends on how well he executes and the switching cost. Google and Facebook are not the first in the search and social network respectively. But they are the leader. Furthermore Google+ is trying to beat Facebook! You are never late. You can start now!)
    • Learn from the ‘wisest man’ on earth, King Solomon, who said in Ecc 9:11-12 (for details see Adding Biblical Wisdom to Bill & Steve Jobs' Wisdom)
      • Again I saw that under the sun :
        • the race is not to the swift,
        • nor the battle to the strong,
        • nor bread to the wise,
        • nor riches to the intelligent,
        • nor favor to those with knowledge,
        • but time and chance happen to them all.
      • In addition, no human being knows his time:
        • Like fish captured in a cruel net,
        • or as birds caught in a snare,
        • so also are human beings caught by bad timing that surprises them
  4. Follow but maintain integrity and righteousness
    • Moral Principles, your key values (such as love, righteousness, good manners, wisdom, integrity, boldness, pro-activeness, respect etc),  are the unchanging part. Hold on and keep them. These are the rocks or anchors that give you the stability in the midst of making changes.
  5. Follow only the good things
    • We are not to blindly follow changes. We choose and follow the right ones.  Those who follow some of the Chinese 36 Strategies and used them in the bad way that exploited the crisis suffered by others and looted and robbed would be found out and punished later. We can exploit the crisis for good.
    • Doing the right things give you the peace of mind and long term economic benefits as well.
  6. Follow from the heart – need no external pressures.
    • Finally, the best adaption to change is from the heart.
    • We may be forced to change at the start,  so that we are forced to learn and adapt to it.  When over time, we come to master it and enjoy it from the heart. We may even welcome the change. Edison remarked when his factory was destroyed by fire said that he could have a fresh start with the errors wiped out.
    • Changes are best handled from the heart. The external force can achieve change for the short term. To have long-term change, reach out to the heart of people. Help them to see the benefits of the change. Hold them and coach them through the change so that they can experience the goodness of the change and be sold by it. They will help others to change too.
    • We are not defeated by the change. We conquer and benefit from the change. We have joy in the change that comes from a process of facing, learning, adapting and mastering it.
    See also Yin-Yang Thinking Framework - Building Upon the Great Teaching

    Lim Liat copyrighted April 2011 (updated 4 Oct 2011).

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