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New Art Of War: “Pruning” to Renew Your Organization

New Art Of War: “Pruning” to Renew Your Organization

PARK Jae-Hee

Jan. 25, 2008

Transcript

Hello, I am Jae-Hee Park on The New Art of War.

Popular wisdom may lead you to believe that more is always better. As the new year begins, though, it might be time to recollect how much you brought into your life last year. How much did you save in your bank account? How many new phone numbers are on your phone list? Perhaps you've tried to learn a new language or new skill.

Today I'm going to contend that getting rid of things from time to time can help shore up your competitiveness.

Appreciation of emptiness is hardly a new idea, and dates back in Asian culture to Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. As Lao Tzu once said, “To practice the Tao, the pursuit of higher morality, means to empty and simplify everyday.” This simple verse provides insight on to how to manage your life more peacefully. In the modern business world, “to practice Tao” could mean “streamlining and re-evaluating your organization frequently.” Today’s business world contains such an enormous quantity and volume of information, that Lao Tzu’s advice to take a step back and prune off anything unnecessary may still be valuable. Although filling your organization may look right, sometimes it is wiser take off some parts to harness competitiveness.

Emptying is a technique that leaves more room for growth. Current trends towards “slimming” electronic devices and simplifying design demonstrates how emptying can improve competitiveness on many levels. Given the excess that prevailed for much of the 20th century, the 21st century may be a time for pruning to bolster competitiveness. Lao Tzu himself stressed these five points. First, clear your mind and fill your stomach. Having too much on one’s mind will disturb the rest of the body. When situations become more arduous, it is much better to return to the basics.

Second, keep your volition at bay while keeping your “bones” strong. Possessing a will that is too strong may leave scars in your heart. Excessive determination may pressure you and cause trauma. Strong “bones” will provide strong backing to any will. No matter how determined, without strong “bones,” you will end in failure.

Third, close your senses and put your mental activity on hold. Close your eyes to block out colors and shut your ears to all noises. Too much concentration on these stimuli will bring more desires to disrupt your life. Think less to escape the complexities of life.

Fourth, temper your keenness and entangle all complex thoughts. Sharpness, in words or in attitude, can cause wounds. For this reason, sharp edges should be smoothed out. Also, when dealing with complex thoughts, sometimes it is wise to simply cast them away.

Fifth, adjust your brightness and adapt to mundane life. Sometimes acting too smart may come back to haunt you. A person that shines too brightly causes others to avoid him or her. Remember in our daily lives people make mistakes. If a person’s luster outshines others, people may fear getting close. A person who keeps tabs on secular life knows how to get along with everyday people. Those people with humane nature and outstanding character do not outshine others to drive them away.

Clear your mind and fill your stomach.

Keep your volition at bay while keeping your “bones” strong.

Close your senses and put your mental activity on hold.

Temper your keenness and entangle all complex thoughts.

Adjust your brightness and adapt to a mundane life.

As a leader, these five principles will help you prune your organization to prosperity.

From prearranged meetings to mounting numbers in the phonebook, from calling up acquaintances to learning a new language, everyone is now running ragged with too much burdens on themselves. Sometimes you have to empty to make room for growth. Just keep in mind the phrase, “to practice Tao, the pursuit of higher morality, means to empty and simplify everyday,” and remember that over the long term frequent emptying can actually keep you stronger.

This has been a lecture on The New Art of War by Jae-Hee Park.

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