Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Makes An Expert


My Compass360 Consulting associates and I are always amazed that the news media has a tendency of interviewing experts who claimed that they are the consummate know-it all about a specific subject matter.

Most of them are quite polished in their viewpoints. Some are extremely biased in their opinions. At the same time, the background of those experts is questionable. Sometimes these experts are paid by larger companies to push their views and products. (That is another topic.) It is rare that there is an expert who is not promoting their wares. Image

My main gripe with some of these amateur experts is that they cannot connect their viewpoints with the grand picture of the masses. Most of the time, their viewpoints are so narrow. It is all about their client's agenda.


Honouring the Worthy (Tai Gong Six Teachings-Civil Teaching Chapter 9)

King Wen asked Tai Gong:”Among those I rule, who should be elevated, who should be placed in inferior positions? Who should be selected for employment, who to cast aside? What affairs should be banned and what affairs need control?”

Tai Gong said:”Elevate the worthy and place the unworthy in inferior positions. Choose the sincere and trustworthy, eliminate the deceptive and artful. Prohibit violence and chaos, stop extravagance and ease. Accordingly, one who exercises kingship over the people recognizes the ‘six hazards’ and ‘seven harms’.”

King Wen said:“I would like to know more about them.”

Tai Gong said:”For the ‘six hazards’:

“First, if your subordinates build large palaces and mansions, pools and terraces and amble about enjoying the pleasures of scenery and female musicians, it will ‘injure’ the King’s virtue.”

“Second, when the people are not engaged in agriculture and sericulture but instead give rein to their tempers and loitering about, disdaining and transgressing the laws and prohibitions, not following the instructions of the officials, it harms the King’s influence.”

“Third, when officials form cliques and parties - obfuscating the worthy and wise, obstructing the ruler from feeling the pulse of the state - it ‘injures’ the King’s authority.”

“Fourth, when scholars are contrary-minded and conspicuously display ‘high moral standards’ - taking such behavior to be powerful expression of their disposition - and have private relationships with other feudal lords - slighting their own ruler - it ‘injures’ the King’s awesomeness.”

“Fifth, when subordinates disdain titles and positions, are contemptuous of the administrators, and are ashamed to face hardship for their ruler, it ‘injures’ the motivation of meritorious subordinates.”

“Sixth, when the strong clans encroach on others - seizing what they want, insulting and ridiculing the poor and weak - it ‘injures’ the work of the common people.”

“The seven harms:”

“First, men without wisdom or strategic planning ability are generously rewarded and honored with rank. Therefore, the strong and courageous who regard war lightly take their chances in the battlefield. The King must be careful not to employ them as generals.”

“Second, they have reputation but lack substance. What they say and their stand is constantly changing. They conceal the good and spread the bad. They are always seeking short-cuts. The King should be careful not to make plans with them.”

“Third, they make their appearance simple, wear ugly clothes, spouting no regard for office in order to seek fame, and talk about non-desire in order to gain profit. They are ‘fakes’ and the King should be careful not to bring them near.”

“Fourth, they wear strange caps and belts and their clothes are very elaborate. They listen widely to the disputations of others and speak speciously about unrealistic ideas, displaying them as a sort of personal adornment. They dwell in poverty and live in tranquility, deprecating the customs of the world. They are cunning people and the King should be careful not to favor them.”

“Fifth, with slander, obsequiousness and pandering, they seek office and rank. They are reckless, treating death lightly, out of their greed for salary and positions. They are not concerned with major affairs but move solely out of avarice. With lofty talk and specious discussion, they please the ruler. The King should be careful not to employ them.”

“Sixth, they have buildings elaborately carved and inlaid. They promote artifice and flowery adornment, in turn interrupting agriculture. You must inhibit them.”

“Seventh, they con people, practice sorcery and witchcraft, advance unorthodox ways and circulate inauspicious sayings, befuddling good people. The King must stop them.”

“Now when the people do not give their best, they are not our people. If the officers are not sincere and trustworthy, they are not our officers. If the ministers do not offer their loyalty, they are not our ministers. If the officials neither of high integrity nor love the people, they are not our officials. If the chancellor cannot enrich the state and strengthen the army, harmonize yin and yang, and ensure security for the ruler of the state with ten thousand chariots - and moreover properly control the ministers, set names and realities, make clear rewards and punishments, and give pleasure to the people - he is not our chancellor.”

“Now the Way of the King is like that of a dragon’s head. He dwells in the heights and look out far. He sees deeply and listens carefully. He displays his form but conceal his nature. He is like the heights of the Heaven, which cannot be perceived. He is like the depth of an abyss, which cannot be fathomed. Thus if he should get angry but does not, evil subordinates will rise. If he should execute but does not, chaos will appear. If strategic military power is not exercised, enemy states will grow strong.”

King Wen said:”Excellent!”

--- Paraphased from Ralph D. Sawyer's translation of The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China


Wise words from Tai Gong. This level of deception is similar to some of our current set of politicians.

As for media pundits, the politicians can be described as the town crier or the court jester. They are not the leaders in the sense that King Wen speaks of. It is rare that some of them can actually connect their dribble to anything substantial. Their views rarely relates to anything with
historical context and future desires.

Retrospectively, they rarely ever have any grand influence to the situation.

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