Tales My Mother Told Me Volume 2- Tale 3: Talking about army on paper.

This tale “Talking about army on paper”  is an interesting story. I remember a day, when we had a visitor; my Uncle Chau who came to visit. I had always respected and admired my Uncle Chau. Each time he came to see us I loved to hang around with him and listen to his conversations with Mum and Dad. Uncle Chau would stay with us for hours and talk virtually non stop about everything you could think of. He’s wealth of knowledge was inspiring.

So after his visit on this particular day I said to my Mum “Wow, Uncle Chau is such wise man. He knows everything. He seems to have all the answers.”

Mum just smiled and gave me one of her special looks.

“Well Mum, isn’t he smart?” I asked.

“Yes he is my little one, your Uncle Chau is a typical example of “Talking about army on paper. Your Auntie and our families are all hoping that your Uncle uses his knowledge to do great things  and to apply it to real life. He’s a smart man, but unfortunately he just loves to talk but he’s not prepared to walk the walk.” she said. “Now do you remember the story I told you about the son of General Zhao She?.”

“Of course I remember Mum” I said with enthusiasm.

So here’s a summary of the story; “Talking about army on paper.”

Back in the olden times in China, there was a general named Zhao She who was known for his warfare strategies. He was a hands on type of leader, had fought many victorious battles and gained his knowledge and experience from the battlefield. General Zhao She had a son named Zhao Kuo who looked up to him and wanted to become a well known general just like his father.

As a child Zhao Kuo started to read books about the art of war. When ever he attended functions he loved to recite passages from these books about military strategy and tactics. He also loved to espouse about the process of commanding army troops. He really impressed all his peers with his wealth of knowledge about warfare. He also particularly impressed his own mother who was so proud of him and thought that he would make a great general just like her husband one day.

General Zhou She on the other hand did not think so. He had great concerns about his own son’s arrogance and that he was ‘all talk and no substance’. The General did not think his son would be a good fit as a general. General Zhou She explained to his wife why he thought their son would not be an ideal general and specifically told his wife to make sure Zhao Kuo would not become a general.

To cut a long story short, when General Zhao She passed away the King summoned Zhao Kuo to take his father’s place as a general and ordered him to lead one thousand troops to fight the enemy.

Mrs Zhao begged the King to change his mind and told the King that her son only can talk about the army on paper and had no real life experiences to lead an army. The King was adamant. His decision was made, and Zhoa Kuo had no choice but to accept the role.

General Zhou Kuo marched off to war at the head of his thousand man army. And as his father has anticipated because of Zhou Kuo’s, over confidence, and inexperience as a leader made bad decision after bad decision, all good on paper, but ultimately resulting in an awful defeat, with the needless loss of so many lives, including that of the young General himself.

So what can we learn from this tale, and how can we ensure we don’t follow Zhao Kuo’s path?

Here are some of the points to consider when you’re running your Art & Design practice:

  • Under Promise. Over Deliver – When a business under promises and over delivers it means that you set the expectations low and then you exceed those expectations. Over promising and routinely failing to live up to expectations can make a business look stupid, especially when it’s the business itself that sets those expectations. By managing customer expectations and then by routinely exceeding those expectations, a business will develop a solid reputation.

  • Walk your talk – When a business makes ambitious claims or promises and then fails to meet those claims, customers will remember the unpleasant experiences and will have less trust in that business. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it.
  • Be the authentic YOU  Know who you are and what you stand for. Don’t try to be like somebody else. Stop pretending that you know how to do a job when you only know the theory of how to do it. Be realistic with your commitments. Be honest with the people you are dealing with.
  • Knowledge is not powerHaving great knowledge is a great thing to have, however, you need to apply it in real life. At ArtSHINE we call the people, the “collector”. They love collecting information and  top up their knowledge but they won’t take action or implement anything that they have learnt. There are people who have all the knowledge and don’t know how or not prepare to apply it into their personal and business life. So, the only way to get thing done is by taking action. Knowledge isn’t power, taking action with knowledge is power.
    Vinh Van Lam
    the authorVinh Van Lam
    Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.

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