Archive

Monthly Archives: July 2017

You should not have any special fondness for a particular weapon, or anything else, for that matter. Too much is the same as not enough. Without imitating anyone else, you should have as much weaponry as suits you.”

The Ground Book/地の巻:
“It is difficult to realise the true Way just through sword-fencing. Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things.

– Miyamoto Musashi 宮本武蔵, Book of Five Rings

Skills are good to have but they should not be kept in your special trophy wall. If you want to be creative, you need to step out of your comfort zone and make decisions that are based on what is happening at this very moment and what was a success last month.

Besides if you use the same methods and “tricks” you will become quite predictable. Instead, try new approaches and learn how to fail. Use your skills to break new ground, not recreate beautiful stuff to get self admiration. When really failing, you sure will not forget about it and there is always a lesson to learn from this.

http://geofflivingston.com/tag/musashi/

http://dudye.com/10-things-miyamoto-musashi-can-teach-you-about-creative-strategy

Interesting video of a Japanese chef Jun who bought a rusty knife and sharpens it. Watch Jun make a radish rose with his sharpened knife. That’s skill.

How to polish a knife: Watch as a rusty piece of Japanese metal becomes a sharp, shiny blade

What do you think are important 21st Century skills?

Advertisements

In “So you have been publicly shamed” by Jon Ronson, p102, he cites the famous Stanford Prison experiment and interview by Dave Eshelman, the “evil guard”.

Dave explained his actions saying that the first night was boring. “So I thought I’d get some action going”. In his mind he decided to channel sadistic southern prison warden Strother Martin from the movie “Cool Hand Luke” which he had just seen. “I thought I was doing something good at the time.”

Doing something good.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. A quote by one of my lecturers in political science at INSEAD.

Somehow this quote haunts me today as it usually does, after a class teaching ethics.

In his book, humorously written, Ronson provoked the thought of people who do evil, under the impression that they are doing public good. Think online shaming.

Many investigative journalistic stories especially the one on female developer Adria Richards vs Hank, where she publicly called out on a group of guys at the PyCon conference for not being respectful to the community. He lost his job as a result. The online trolling community attacked her company and she lost hers as a result…. The downward spiral had its rippling effect.

Chinese historian Shima Qian who compiled 史记 in 86BC, concluded that while those who do evil will suffer evil. Those who do good may not necessarily be rewarded.

He did not elaborate. But I suppose that we need wisdom while doing good. The good you do may not really be good.

歇后语xiehouyu are two part sayings. The first part is a riddle, puzzle or reference to story or history and the second part, sometimes not expressed, is the meaning.
image
Photos by me. Taken at the Gardens by the Bay 2017

公鸡头上一块肉
大小都是个官
Top of the rooster’s head is a piece of meat. More or less its an official position

公鸡下蛋
妄想
Rooster lay eggs- wild wish

image

打鸭子上架
有意作难
Chase ducks up the pole – will is there but difficult to carry out. Like herding cats.

鹅吃草, 鸭吃谷
各人享各人福
Geese eat grass, duck eat oats. Each enjoy what it likes.

温水烫鸡
一毛不拔
Scalding chicken in lukewarm/cold water. Not a feather can be removed. That is, very stingy.

问客杀鸡
虚情假意
Asking guests whether to slaughter a chicken for their meal. Hypocritical show of hospitality. (That is, if you are generous you would have done it. Usually guests in Chinese culture are obliged to say no.)

image

A sculpture of Zhu Ge Liang诸葛亮 at the Gardens by the Bay, Singapore.

Zhuge Liang is iconised in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as a wise chief strategist of Liu Bei. The military strategy book “36 strategems”, contains many of his “cunning” military strategies in using minimal resources.

How Zhu GeLiang 诸葛亮 came to work for Liu Bei was dramatised in a story “3 visits to the humble straw abode” 三顾茅庐”. Zhu was a recluse who rose above petty politics. Legend goes that he could read weather conditions and wind direction, an important skill considering that wind direction can affect the flight of warships and arrows.

Liu Bei and his 2 sworn brothers Zhang Fei and Guan Yu decided to visit Zhu Ge Liang at his home in 卧龙岗 wolonggang or hidden dragan ridge。 When they travelled to his home, they saw a small boy sweeping the door who told them that Zhu was not at home.

On their second visit, they saw a youth studying and upon enquiring found that Zhu was away. Liu Bei left a letter for Zhu explaining the purpose of his visit.

On their third visit, the three men were told that Zhu was at home but sleeping. Zhang Fei, the general, wanted to wake Zhu up. But Liu Bei decided to wait. By nightfall, Zhu finally woke up.

Touched by their sincerity, Zhu agreed to work for Liu Bei.

In Chinese culture, there is no mention of the persuasive words or vision by Liu Bei that moved Zhu Ge Liang.

China, and Japan belonged to what is known as High Context Cultures (高背景文化). Here the setting, status and non verbal behaviour matter more than actual words spoken. Men of Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu’s stature could easily have sent Ambassadors to persuade Zhu. But Liu Bei himself came to visit Zhu. Relationship and trust are important factors.

In low context cultures, words convey facts and information and are more important in communication.

High and Low context cultures is a theory proposed by anthropologist Edward Hall.

However, is the distinction so clear between high and low context cultures? Story-tellers would imply that even in low context cultures, tone of voice and “pauses” convey meaning. Pauses – are important in conveying or emphasing a word. More is not necessarily better.

Sarcastic tone of voice vs appreciative tone.

声调变化 Change in tone can convey sincerity.

Punctuation can change the meaning of a word.

“A woman without her man is nothing”

(1) “A woman, without her man, is nothing.”

Or

(2) “A woman: without her, man is nothing.”

Indirect cultures
According to Managing across cultures by Charlene Solomon and Michael Schell, in indirect cultures, the background context is very important. It isn’t what people talk about that is important but how it is said.

People tend to be indirect. Listeners are expected to interpret statements to infer what the speaker is saying.

Speaking eloquently but indirectly is a prized art. In some societies, the idea of saving face is an essential part of information exchange. In indirect cultures, direct statements may be seen as rude.

In direct cultures or low context, people look for content not what surrounds the content. They expect all the information they need is contained in the words they use. People are direct and expect to be taken at their word.

Clarity of communicating in words is paramount. Simplicity is admired and language may be punctuated (with vulgarity) for effect.

Unlike indirect societies where saving face is essential, here saving face is not important. sometimes openly challenging someone you disagree is admired.

In a globalised world where cultures meet , our differences in perception in communication can cause misunderstandings. Lets give each other the benefit of the doubt.

Do you have similar instances in your culture where non verbal convey more than the verbal?