Chinese Wisdom Quotes For Leaders
Image credit: Bernhard Latzko

Let’s say you are a leader of a group of five individuals. You have your own office and the minions you hired to work for you, all share a large room separate from that of yours. Today at 11:32 PM on a Tuesday, you happen to drop into their room to check who has been productive and who has not.

You catch the first one sleeping at work. The other one, missing from their desk (you find that they went to get groceries). And the third one, scrolling through something (Instagram feed) on their phone. And the other two, working diligently on something.

It enrages you to see the first three not doing what they should ideally be doing, instead they are spending their working hours to do something not even closely related.

Damn, you think. “I paid for this hour of theirs for them to sleep, buy groceries and scroll social media feeds! It’s unacceptable.”

Then, by what you just saw, you judge their productivity and you shoot mails informing them about work ethics and what minimal productivity they have been presenting.

Wait a minute! And calmly think about it. Did you not just see a very minuscule (probably insignificant) part of what the reality actually is?

In reality, a minute before you barged in, the first person who you saw sleeping, had just submitted a massive analysis to two clients, felt accomplished, finished lunch and had decided to take a power nap to get started with their next cost-analysis that he/she plans to mail the third client by tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM.

The second, who you did not see around, had hours scheduled in the evening to meet with a few collaborators on Skype from the other part of the world. He knows he won’t be able to fill in his empty refrigerator at home, if he did not tactfully plan his grocery store trip during the day.

And the third one, who you saw “Instagramming”, had actually been trying to find inspiration in the randomness of his Instagram feeds, for the design of a online advertisement banner for a new deal your company has to offer to its clients.

On the other hand, the other two you just saw working diligently had been out on a vacation throughout the week. They just happened to see you coming to the room and set up a show of diligence.

Quite dramatically opposite to what you imagined, but that is what you might probably be missing.

Ancient Wisdom

While discussing management styles yesterday, a Chinese friend of mine plainly recited a few lines from ancient Chinese wisdom. Like every other verse originating from ancient civilizations, this one instantly caught my attention too and I asked them to repeat it again, slower. My friend complied,


“疑人不用, 用人不疑”

“ Yi ren bu yong, Yong ren bu yi”


Then, I pressed them to translate it for me. No surprises, these two rhythmic lines contained a wealth of information. If you break the verse down, it contains just four different words and the individual words mean:

Yi – Doubt
Ren – People
Bu – Not
Yong – Hire

And now, putting the words together, reveals the meaning. It says something on the lines,

“Do not hire a person you doubt,

Do not doubt a person you hire.”

When you hired your workers, you probably sieved them off from the several people you interviewed. You got the cream. Well, if you did not, you should have, but let us forget that that for a while. Ultimately, you hired your people because you saw something in them. Now, they work for you because you trusted them with everything and chose to include them in your inner-circle.

And if you did not choose the ones you really trusted, make sure you put this prerequisite of unconditional trust into practice from the next time you select your people.

For prosperity and success in business, at any point do not doubt the ones you have hired to work for you. Instead, make it a rule to only judge them by the overall quality of long term results they produce, and have always produced for you. Evaluate every situation with composure and let not the doubt, from whatever minuscule amount of instantaneous reality you perceive, cloud your judgement.

Source: Anupam Pant

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