Friday, August 1, 2014

Understanding the Big Tangible Picture by Reading Jiang Tai Gong's Six Secret Teachings

The Six Secret Teachings is a favorite book for the serious strategists who wanted to understand the Big Tangible Picture (BTP) of an extreme competitive terrain for over two thousand years. Those who are involved in the modern consulting/ strategy game, could learn something from this classical book. 

The Origin
In the Zhou dynasty of the 11th century BC, an elderly, eccentric advisor known as Tai Gong devised a set of principles relating to government and warfare through the reported conversations with Emperor Wen and his successor, Emperor Wu.

Throughout Chinese history, there were many "secret teachings" and "confidential notebook and essays" in many areas. Labeling these certain items under the category as a secret makes them more desirable as they seem scarce and harder to access. To access these so-called secrets typically requires investment that leads to greater commitment, as the student acts to sustain consistency with their investment.

(There is a long range benefit from learning from this "exclusive" manual. We could tell you. But it is better if you read it.) 

Chapter One: King Wen's Teacher 
The first chapter introduces King Wen and his meeting with his teacher, Jiang Tai Gong who utilizes the analogy of fishing to offer learning points.

He talked about the importance of being a 'True men of worth' and that it is the type of person that any wise ruler should be. By speaking in this manner , the Tai Gong immediately suggested that he could be his close adviser. The king immediately understood the value of Jiang Tai Gong's words (and being advised by his scribe), accepted this relationship.

The Art of Bait and Lure
The point about requiring big bait and a strong line to catch big fish is notable in the importance is places on commitment. If you are cautious or offer only simple bait, the big fish will detect your lack of commitment and either ignore you or capitalize on your weakness.

This section includes a direct reminder to the king to be kind to his people, pointing out how followership is thus created. The lesson that many of today's leaders still need to learn is that there is a base human nature towards the utilization of punishment and reward others when motivation is needed . It requires more skill to use kindness that leads people to truly want to do as you ask.  This enables you to seldomly command the people to do your bidding.

  • A true man of worth is usually ambitious. Using the fisherman analogy, he pursues whales and sharks. While the common man have ordinary and common goals. As a fisherman, he catches only guppies and minnows. 
  • True men are drawn together by common interest in significant affairs.
  • To lure a big fish, one needs a big but attractive bait and a strong fishing line. This may require significant commitment from the ambitious leader. Simple, glittering rewards only attract the small fry.
  • A worthy (or sage)  ruler utilizes many approaches that play to the emotions of his counter parts. He shows humanity, virtue and righteousness by sharing, sparing, relieving and eliminating hardship. This is the manner to create followers.
Side Notes 
Other future posts on Jiang Tai Gong will include brief notes on the gist of each relevant chapter of this classic.  

For more details on both this chapter and the full translation of Six Secret Teachings, read Dr. Ralph D. Sawyer's Seven Military Classics of Ancient China (1993). 

# In the age of instant information and immediate gratification, some people do not know what is tangible anymore.  The truth that originated from the classics, has never changed.  

More to come 

No comments: