I would like to share an oriental story for a change to balance the western inspired stories I’ve written so far.
During the Spring Autumn period in China, there was a lady named Xi Shi whose beauty is so mesmerising that it was said that fishes in the pond will stare in a daze, “forget” to swim and sink to the bottom… She is also the “head” of the 4 great beauties in China.
As with all things in life, there is balance. Though beautiful, Xi Shi suffers from chest pains from time to time. One day, she had such an attack… Xi Shi would gently pound her chest and frowns her brow in pain.
Fellow villagers who witness this scene find Xi Shi even more beautiful and alluring. Soon news of this chest pounding scene spread throughout the neighbouring villages.
Now there is another lady by the name of Dong Shi that lived in a nearby village. She likes to doll-up herself in her spare time – despite her “plain” looks.
Upon hearing the buzz that Xi Shi has generated, Dong Shi thought she could illicit the same response from others if she copied Xi Shi. So Dong Shi will deliberately pound on her chest gently and frown her brows while walking down the main street.
Well… Dong Shi’s contrived efforts and her “plain” looks caused more people to look away…
There lies the origin of this chinese idiom: 东施效颦
I am writing this story as a mockery and reminder to myself. I too was caught up by the interest in Steve Jobs’ biography and the snippets of information that was released in the media.
I stopped myself from buying the book. I remember I am still flushing out the Warren Buffet “poison” that is remaining in my body. No, I am not dismissing the work or words of great men and gurus much wiser than me. On the contrary, I love to “borrow with pride” the wisdom of others that make sense to me.
The problem lies with me.
I tend to “justify” my actions by saying to myself that if so and so can do it, so can I… And realise after the fact guru is guru, I am I. Principles and ideas – that I can “borrow with pride” – but the problem starts when I try to imitate the actions of gurus who are very different from me…
Painful lessons I’ve paid when I tried to invest like Warren, only to find that I am more a John Neff’s growth and income guy – with a dash of Jessie Livermore; and a splash of Jim Rogers.
Steve Jobs? Except sharing a common bad temper (I have self awareness of this flaw; but it’s so hard to correct… Especially when I snap at people I love due to over familiarity); there is little else that we have in common. I am far far away from his league. It’s not false modesty or self-deprecation. For goodness sake! I am a Teochew, and “taking pride” is what I do.
Maybe it’s silly thinking. But I now pay careful attention to what and who I read. Again, it’s a me thing. Some information that once sinks into me, just can’t seem to go away… Also, reading and learning from too many gurus can get me confused.
I need to focus.
Like learning kung fu, I must master a few skills well, than to learn a bit of this and that but master of none. And most important of all, chose a kung fu skill that suits my physique and natural abilities.
Singapore Man of Leisure (welcome to my blog; just google it!)
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