Knowing, Doing, and Being
In the movie The Grandmaster, Gong Er says, “Mastery has three stages: Being, knowing, doing. I know myself. I’ve seen the world. Sadly, I can’t pass on what I know. This is a road I won’t see to the end. I hope you will.” His words summarize the general sequence of cultivation in traditional martial arts.
I am not a practitioner of martial arts, but I have read so many kung fu novels ever since I attended elementary school that I can recite the Jiuyin Zhenjing, Dabeifu and Miejue Shizidao backwards. I used to dream of becoming a great man of chivalry, who has reached the height of perfection in all the techniques of fighting. So I learned hard and covered all kinds of stuff. I hoped that I could assimilate the strong points of all schools and would be able to use my Lotus Sword with superb perfection. I thought I did a good job in school studies. I was from an ordinary family. With gradual accumulation, I became a person of versatile skills: graphics, writing, marathon, and singing. When I came to a wider world, however, I found that what I had accumulated for years until I was older than twenty, might already been mastered by others before ten. They are marching toward a much bigger world. People like me are but tiny mayfly in the vast universe. However, this tiny mayfly is still moving forward with all its might. We must display a majestic heroism since we are the creature by the essence of sun and moon.
When I began my career, I first joined Voith Siemens, a global top-2 hydro-power company where bosses were all blond-haired Westerners, directors were all in neat suits, secretaries were all with exquisite make-up, clients were all global energy investment companies, people we dealt with were either political VIPs or business tycoons, business transactions were valued by billions of dollars, and airplanes and five-star hotels were common for business trips…A vast world unfolds itself, and a rookie girl freshly coming out of the ivory tower thought it was heaven itself. I was amazed at the overwhelming scenery of the Three Gorges, tasted red wine and steak at “Three on the Bund,” and enjoyed a painting by Tangyin (1470–1524, a master painter in the Ming Dynasty) at a so-and-so building—all for the first time in my life. It seemed that I had experienced the vanity of half a lifetime.
"Now you are making money out of Chinese people for foreigners. Why not join us and make money out of foreigners for Chinese people?" On the invitation from the Institute for Rural Electrification, Ministry of Water Resources, I determinedly joined a SOE after I worked for a foreign-capital company for nearly four years. I helped it expand the global market and establish overseas teams. I still remember the fear and anxiety when I became the hydropower project manager for the first time. I lacked everything: people, money, system, accumulation. What I had around me there were new colleagues without the experience of overseas project or even system project. I ran ahead by all my guts and an unyielding zeal while overcoming all the obstacles getting in the way. The cautiousness and delicacy nurtured at the foreign-capital company were successfully transformed into tough looks, loud voice and the vigorous, speedy actions. I became "that lady from Asia Pacific" as mentioned by my suppliers. Turkish engineers at the project sites would say, "Why do you listen to Tina? What does a woman know?" Male colleagues would describe me as "a ticklish case." Unsympathetic and refusing to play the game in the conventional way, I was regarded as a virtual female tyrant. Eventually our project was accomplished at the fastest speed in Europe. In fact, things would have gone out of control if I chose to be a "nice" guy or a gentle, elegant lady at that time. There are no "brothers" in doing a project, and no "women" in the business. You could have the peaceful and good days only because someone else is shouldering the burden for you.
As a result, we finished all the projects available in Turkey. We had seen the good days, while making quite some money for the company. As a saying goes, "Even a pig can fly if it can find a place in the eye of a storm." Traveling around the world, I was receiving prizes here and there. I was with the "big potatoes" of the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Science and Technology on business trips; I was meeting with ambassadors from other countries; I was paying official calls on presidents, ministers, princes and generals; I was training ministers from Third-World countries; I was having close relations with commercial counselors from various countries; I was welcomed by "guard of honor" and addressed as "Madam." That was a different world. I found a place for myself by being among the first ones to "go international" with strong backing of the ministries when my country was becoming stronger. I was proud of the earth I set my feet on. I really thought I was the "Madam" who, representing the image of China, had the power to control things.
"I should not," I said to myself, "be cast aside by the times in an era of widespread entrepreneurship and innovation." Through various connections I collaborated with my classmates abroad who were full of heroic spirit and enthusiasm, trying to introduce automobile transmission technology and nuclear re-processing technology to China. I mixed in with investors of various industries, listening to the stories told by the industrial tycoons: stories about someone getting rich overnight, those about someone going bankrupt and committing suicide by jumping off a building, or those amorous and grotesque…We could not hope to catch up with Jack Ma in the field of Internet, nor were we "tech geeks" fond of innovation in business models. Inspired by technologically successful companies founded by our schoolmates including Hikvision, Guide Infrared and Leyard, however, we still wished, by using the force of capital, to have something new in the fields of mechanics or electric power to achieve our ambitions.
As I recall it, when I met with an investor in the science and technology area and explained to him our technology and market, he said in a faint voice, "You need time for refining these projects and accumulating technology. You will achieve nothing unless you put in ten years of hard work." I remember vividly the feeling as if my heart had exploded. Ten years! By then we will all be presented with "a crown of glory." It was probable that my partner chose to part company with me because he agreed to this theory of "ten years." His pretext was as follows: "If you had met me ten years ago when I had nothing at all and when we were both young and independent, we would have been able to work together and create a period of glory lasting for ten years. But things are different now; I have already had something." What I wanted to say to my partner was: "The partner you meet at a certain time is always the one with equal abilities or the one you will not encounter until you have achieved a certain level. A man will meet his wife who shares his bad fortune only when he is having hard days, and he will meet a princess only when he has achieved both success and fame. In his early stage of entrepreneurship, Jack Ma could only meet the 'Eighteen Arhats.' It was at the stage when he had achieved something that he was able to meet Masayoshi Son and Joseph Tsai. People you meet in every stage of life are those well matched to you at that specific time. And they are all important to you. This is true for everyone!"
I was quite confused at that time, not sure whether I should stick to being myself or drift with the tide, until I met Dennis and CNOOD. That was a joyous event like "meeting an old acquaintance in an alien land, having sweet rain after a long drought, or finding a bosom friend who appreciates my talent." Many of the remarks by Dennis are exactly what I want to say, the things he plans to do are exactly what I want to do, and the system of thoughts he explains in his lectures is exactly what I once imagined in wild fancies. I was not able to build a system as he did because of my inability in systematic construction…I used to think over all the following ideas, and yet failed to adhere to them: "Start from the heart." "Stick to being yourself." "Follow the heart." "Gain a learning both sound in theory and practice."
Dennis is a great teacher. He has opened my eyes, enabling me to see myself and to know where I am from, where I am going, what I shall stick to, what kind of person I want to be, what I could do and what I could not do. He has made me aware that it is never too late to achieve enlightenment. He has made me understand the power of perseverance: Rome is not built in a day; if you want to enter a new world, it must be the result of many years’ effort like "dripping water wearing through a rock."
Dennis and I sometimes have different opinions as regards operational methods and the way of implementation. He did not teach me much about operation-level methods. I experienced depression and vexation, but did not have much mental struggling. At this very moment I am determined at the bottom of my heart, never doubting him or myself. I firmly believe that he is the best leader of thinking I have ever seen even if sometimes he will suddenly produce unexpected ideas or even if I will hear some unfavorable remarks about him. Just like the hero in Forrest Gump, he is born to be a leader with strong thinking ability, who trudges across mountains and water, stopped by neither wind nor rain. People who choose to follow him will naturally do so, and those who choose not to run will naturally drop behind. This power opens my eyes.
Inspired by him, I begin to calm down to know myself. I am neither so arrogant as to consider myself a sparkling star in the sky nor so self-abased as to consider myself a dust on the ground. I am able to distinguish between the strength given by the platform from the assets I have accumulated by myself. I have a good understanding of my advantages and disadvantages. I show great patience, bide my time, fear nothing and regret about nothing. I no longer seek the acceptance of others, but rather begin to be accepted by myself. I no longer listen to the flattering words since I know my own level and rank. I do not fear being discouraged or framed up. What else shall I say since I know my heart is full of brightness?
"Anyone who has accomplished a great undertaking or made great achievement in learning must have entered three realms one by one. 'Last night the western breeze/ Blow withered leaves off trees./ I mount the tower high/ And strain my longing eye.' This is the first realm. 'I find my gown too large, but I will not regret;/ It’s worthwhile growing languid for her.' This is the second realm. 'I look for her in vain. When all at once I turn my head,/ I find her there where lantern light is dimly shed.' This is the third realm." This remark, made by a great Chinese scholar, might be the best annotation on "knowing, doing, and being." Now, I remain in a state of "seeing a mountain where there is a mountain, seeing a river where there is a river, and seeing myself where there is myself."
Keep silent, and you’ll see yourself and the beautiful scenery.
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