best practice this week: living it out

"What you are is so loud I can't hear what you are saying."

Practice what I preach. Keep all committments.

Why this Blog?

I started this blog for two reasons:

(1) To share my knowledge and experiences as a business consultant (Asia Pacific) & entrepreneur in the marketplace;

(2) Use this blog as an platform to exchange ideas, to learn from others and to further enrich our business experiences & personal development

Friday, March 21, 2008

Doing Business in China: Lessons learnt from a story

A Tale of Two Monks

There was once a wise old monk who had a young apprentice. The old monk put all his heart and strength teaching and passing on to his young apprentice the knowledge and wisdom he had learnt over many years. The young apprentice did not disappoint for he proved to be intelligent and kind. He took great care of his master and the old monk was happy.

Once a week, the old monk and his apprentice would make a short journey to nearby villages to see patients and to ask for alms. The old monk was accomplished in medicine.

The old monk and his apprentice had to cross a river before they could reach the villages. Like any young man, the apprentice looked forward to each journey with eager anticipation as this provided his only chance to step out of the monastery and interact with the world.

On this day, the apprentice made the usual preparations and informed his master they are ready for the visit to the villages. Both master and student left the monastery and headed towards the river.

From afar, the student saw that something was wrong with the bridge. Walking ahead of his aged master, he jogged a little to see clearly what had happened to the bridge. To his dismal, the bridge had collapsed.

Not only had the bridge collapsed, there was a young woman standing by the entry of the collapsed bridge, crying.

The old monk realized what happened and informed his apprentice that they had to trek down river to make a crossing. They had to wade through the river. The old monk turned to the young woman and gently asked her if she needed help. The distraught young woman replied she was upset because she couldn’t bring medicine she had received from the monastery back to her ailing mother now that the bridge has collapsed.

The old monk smiled and assured her that her return to her ailing mother would not be delayed; they could wade across the river but they have to travel a little downstream. Hearing this, the young woman brightened and was grateful to the old monk and his young apprentice.

The old monk, his student and the young woman made their way downstream and found a crossing site where they could safely wade through the river. The young woman was apprehensive and fearful of the crossing; she could not swim and was afraid she will be swept by the current.

The old monk turned to his student, told him to hand over their traveling bags, carry the young woman on his back and cross the river. The young apprentice believed that male monks should never be that close physically to a woman and with his staunch belief respectfully refused his master’s request.

The old monk had no other choice but to carry the young woman on his back.

When they had crossed over to the other side, the young woman was full of gratitude and offered the old monk and his student some money. The young woman invited them to her house and hurriedly left for her village to attend to her ailing mother.

The old monk and his apprentice slowly made their way to the village. After some distance, the young apprentice could not help but remarked to his master that he was appalled by his master’s physical closeness with the young woman. The young apprentice did not think it was right for a male monk to be so physically close to a woman.

The old monk smiled, turned to his young apprentice and asked if he was very disturbed by the old monk’s actions. The young apprentice replied yes. The old monk then asked if the young apprentice had been thinking about this matter since the crossing. The young apprentice replied yes.

Putting his hand on his young apprentice’s shoulder, he said: “My young apprentice, you are very upset with my action and have been thinking about it since we left the river. I stopped carrying the young woman after we have crossed the river. But you my young apprentice, you have not stopped carrying her in your mind since that time. It is time now to let her go lest you’d be thinking of her tonight.”

This story was told to me by a Chinese business friend of mine some time ago. My friend is rather philosophical and enjoys talking to people about politics, life and business. He asked me if I wanted his advice on doing business in China since he has discussed this subject with many young entreneurs (foreign and local Chinese) like me. I said yes of course!

After narrating the story, I pressed him for the advice he promised. He said to me that the answer to that will have to come from me. Duh?!

He knew I was flustered but assured me that the story certainly has a moral and advice behind it. He told me he did this many times with many different persons. And every single one of them after some time told him the moral and advice from the story, from their perspectives.

This, to my friend, made more sense and it is more valuable advice.

I have learnt many lessons on doing business (in China) from this story, from my perspective of course.

Now, I'd like to hear yours.

No comments: