A past post reminded me of a passage written by Thomas Cleary in his Translator’s Introduction of Sun Tzu’s, The Art of War. He wrote:
According to an old story, a lord of ancient China once asked his physician, a member of a family of healers, which of them was the most skilled in the art.
The physician, whose reputation was such that his name became synonymous with medical science in China, replied, “My eldest brother sees the spirit of sickness and removes it before it takes shape, so his name does not get out of the house.
“My elder brother cures sickness when it is still extremely minute, so his name does not get out of the neighborhood.
“As for me, I puncture veins, prescribe potions, and massage skin, so from time to time my name gets out and is heard among the lords.”
The lesson Cleary took out of this is that, regardless of the specific context, less is usually more. He also ties this to Sun Tzu’s philosophy that “The peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict altogether unnecessary:”
“To overcome others’ armies without fighting is the best of skills.”
Isn’t it interesting that the principle still applies, and perhaps always will, that those who know the most usually say the least and those who do a thing best feel the least need to publicize it. Now, this shouldn’t be confused with advertising and marketing; we must do this as a form of business-building and maintenance.
Yet, there’s that certain thing we notice in people, isn’t there? When we hear a person talking about how _____ they are, we almost always assume the opposite, don’t we?
As Aunt Elle, the mentor in It’s Not About You tells her protege, Ben, “It’s not that what you say isn’t important. It is. That’s just not where the source of your power lies. What you have to give, you offer least of all through what you say; in greater part through what you do; but in greatest part through who you are.”
Just like the eldest brother in that ancient Chinese family of healers.
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Profoundly true. Looking forward to the discussion on this one Bob. It has me thinking this morning. I am very excited about the new book! I’ve preordered my copies and it’s almost time!
Last night I had a fabulous conversation with Leanne HoaglandSmith (@CoachLee at Twitter), who told me the second chapter of her book is about Values; she stressed the importance of values for all of us, that they’re the guiding light of how we function. She told me if she promised a client he’d have his material on Friday before 2:00 P.M., she’d move heaven and earth to make sure it happened. Values! I think that’s what you just wrote about in this terrific article. What I love about your posts, Bob is how you tell or report stories to make your point; and this was a wonderful story!
I think Aunt Elle is spot on! And I’ve not heard “To overcome others’ armies without fighting is the best of skills.” Love that, because I do not like fighting.
Very inspiring post — and I agree with Robert’s comment that the stories really bring it to life! This brings to mind one of my favorite quotes: “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” ~ Thomas B. Macaulay
Hi Donna, thank you for your kind feedback. And that IS an excellent quote by Macaulay, isn’t it!
I think Gideon would have appreciated this story very much. 🙂
Dondi, thank you. I’m always doubly honored to know that one of my posts has you thinking. Thank you for telling me that. And, I love your though regarding Gideon! LOL
Hi Robert, what a great comment about Leanne! And, thank you for your kind words.
Hey Amy, me neither. Nuttin’ fun about that. 🙂
Posts like this help me realize that success isn’t “Out there waiting for me”, it’s inside waiting to be let out. I’m on the right track with becoming “more” so I can earn “more”.
As Jim Rohn said so well (my paraphrase): “Success is not something you go after, it’s something you attract by the person you become.”
If that means one’s name doesn’t get out there, all the better! Our name is bright lights doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve arrived, now does it Bob and Dondi? 🙂
Thanks as always for making my day.
Another good one, Bob. And great comments everyone. Made me think about what my dad used to say; “Actions speak louder than words”. A lot of people want to talk the talk, but it usually is the ones who say the least that have the most impact. Their actions and good deeds speak louder than any words.
Take CARE and thanks again.
Reading this reminds me of two things:
1. The scripture: A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.- Proverbs 18:16
2. What you do speaks so loudly, what you say, I cannot hear.
Both, along with your post, teaches me as we continue to fulfill our purpose & destiny, those who need to know will know. Not self promo! This principle may be applied in business, as well as, every area of our lives.
Little IS more!
I would agree that this idea has its roots in values. And maybe a little bit comes from focus as well? If you’re focused on doing what’s right, and really listening to what is needed, there’s no time to have an ego, no reason to shout your point of view, and no conflict arises. There are people who have a point of view, and then there are people who look for view points. (Although I guess I just gave a point of view! LOL. I guess I still need to work on this myself.) Thanks, Bob, for a great post.
Not when it comes to LOVE, or GIVING my friend! (But you know that)
Hi Stefan, and many other things. Yes, the entire post was very much a generalization. There are many, many, many exceptions to this particular rule. Thank you for sharing!
Great comments, Jennifer. And, quoting Jim Rohn is always a sign of wisdom!
Al, so true. Thank you!
Thank you, Geneva. Not to say self-promotion is necessarily a bad thing. There’s just a right way and a wrong way to do it. 🙂
Kim, I love what you say about focus (as they relate to our values) being so key. Regarding point of view…if they weren’t allowed, I’d be in BIG trouble LOL
I fell in love with Aunt Elle at Hello and am learning so much from her wisdom! “The less you say, the more influence you have.” This is definitely a challenge for me, as I learn to make my point and then shut up! For me, there’s this fine line between expressing enthusiasm about something and knowing when to stop talking. I’m working on it, and this post reminds me of the value of that. Less really IS more. The end… Oh wait…one more thing… 🙂