Hey guys! Today’s post is a summary of this week’s 逻辑思维–a wildly popular online series on Chinese history and politics.
This series was initially introduced to me by my friend and business mentor Raymond Ng–and I can’t thank him enough for it!🙂 Raymond would sometimes share his reflections of this series with all of us in the whatsapp group conversation, and I benefitted a lot from the discussions. This week’s episode was so good that I’d decided to do an English summary to share with my readers.
The episode’s theme is about “目标感”–which I will translate as “a sense of exactly what do I want out of this transaction/ project?” Most people don’t know exactly what they want when they do something, including myself.
Using the elaborate example of the second opium war, the host Luo Pang argues that if you want to definitely get into trouble, simply do things without a sense of “目标感”, i.e. be reactive or passive aggressive in everything you do. Intention in that aspect, is irrelevant. Conversely, if you want sure success, simply have a sense of what you are doing, and the world will be your oyster.
Official definition of “目标感”:
“The highest form of goal, the biggest and most noble form of personal aspiration. This goal can never be fully achieved. However, one places himself on the road to be closer to this dream, this goal–even though it’s tiring, it’s a happy place to be.”
There’s another concept in this episode, known as “博弈论”. This is defined as:
"博弈论是二人或多人在平等的对局中各自利用对方的策略变换自己的对抗策略，达到取胜目标的理论。 博弈论是研究互动决策的理论。博弈可以分析自己与对手的利弊关系，从而确立自己在博弈中的优势， 因此有不少博弈理论，可以帮助对弈者分析局势，从而采取相应策略，最终达到取胜的目的。 博弈的类型分为：合作博弈、非合作博弈、完全信息博弈、非完全信息博弈、静态博弈、 动态博弈，等等。"
In this episode, Luo Pang posits that the sure path to failure is to NOT take a clear stand in whatever you do.
He referred to the Second Opium War. For, Out of the four biggest wars in China’s recent history, the second opium war was the most absurd because–
- First opium war: The Chinese fought because they did not know that they would lose. And they lost.
- Battle of Shiminoseki: The Chinese fought because they thought they would win. But they lost.
- Battle of Beijing: Empress Dowager Cixi knew that China could not win the war, but in order to protect her reign, she had to continue fighting.
- Second opium war: No reason. None!
He then points out that the absurd war happened as a result of the Chinese people doing things without a sense of purpose.
That is to say, whenever the British or the French made a move, the Chinese people then merely reacted or dragged their decision process. Or, they simply didn’t react.
Luo Pang then made a list of events in the second opium war that described in detail what the Chinese folks did. In essence, every interaction with the British was either reactive or passive aggressive. The British wanted to go into China then due to the huge Chinese market–they wanted to do business and expand their business bases. The Chinese people however, have no such intention of opening their borders and still had a mightier-than-thou attitude then (Since China is so huge and rich), so they thought they could be benevolent.
So, whenever the British made a first move, the Chinese would simply react in a lukewarm manner, simply to avoid trouble and to delay making a stand. There isn’t a decisive, progressive action or intention to advance their own interests: All moves made by the Chinese was to avoid or delay certain consequences X by the British.
And such lukewarm behavior, regardless of intention, is disastrous. So it led to the second opium war.
In closing, Luo Pang gave two examples which I found really useful:
- Let’s say your friend wants to borrow USD10,000 from you. You are really reluctant to lend him the sum because he’s not that close, but at the same time you do not want to offend him.
If you respond in a lukewarm manner– giving tons of excuses and in the end still not lend him the money, you basically would run into a situation whereby you will lose the friend even if you do lend the money. This is because your friend will sense your reluctance.
Therefore, Luo Pang suggests to make a stand right from the start. If you decide to lend your friend the money, go as far as to even ask him “Just ask if you ever need my help in any other way?” This will make your friend really grateful to you for life.
If you decide to not lend the friend the money and keep the friendship, simply make it clear from the start, and then treat your friend to the meal sometime next week or sorts. This would allow you to keep the friendship while not lending the money.
- The next example is on a larger scale. Let’s say you’re working for a company and your boss is doing a grand total of zero work. He however, takes all the credit. You feel that it’s super unfair.
However, because you have this sense of exactly what you want out of the transaction, you still continue to do your best. One day, the field will change, and then you can start to redefine the “benefits interaction game”.
- Luo Pang also referred to China. In the past 30 years, the Chinese have been working so hard for foreign direct investment from the Western world.
In this short span of 30 years, they got whatever they wanted, elevated their own statuses, and built their own world. Chinese technology is now one of the top in the world. Can anyone say that the Chinese got an “unfair” deal out of being the “factory of the world”? Of course not–because the Chinese knew what they were doing from the start, even though the Western world might see it as “unfair” or “exploitative”. They started somewhere, and elevated themselves–and they are now the world’s number two economy.
In conclusion, Luo Pang therefore says that if you have this sense of exactly knowing what you want out of each transaction, you will be successful even if you start with zero. If you don’t have a sense of knowing exactly what you want out of each transaction, you will not be successful even if you start with a lot.
This “sense of knowing exactly what you want” is paramount to success.
“Is it so simple?” Some might ask.
Luo Pang answers, “Yes, it is really so simple”.
Interesting right! Such food for thought!!😀
To end this post, I want to share a song that my friend Yeow An did, which also illuminates this point that being lukewarm is terribad.
For…you might even lose a pretty girl😮 Fuck.
Okay, got to run, bye!