Have you ever been talking to some wiseacre who, with great pomp and circumstance quotes Confucius or some other Chinese proverb? If you say no than you are lucky in dodging a pedant but in truth you will heave missed on a wealth of graphic and realistic similies. Here’s how…
Proverb 1: Different locks must be opened with different keys
Sounds trite, and it is. After all we know that we rarely manage to open a lock using the same key for another. Unless your surname is Houdini or Lupin, that is. Different problems and situations require different approaches and solutions, is what the Chinese sage is advocating. Good advice.
Proverb 2: A blind horse always frightens itself
A stern warning against lack of information, this. While a blinkered horse has at lease some information, a blind horse has none and must rely on its wits to move in any direction. Every noise or change in ambiance feels like a threat. This is exactly how we feel when we venture into a situation without the back up of solid information and this metamorphizes into a stone-in-the-gut feeling. Not a good place.
Proverb 3: You must enter the tiger’s den to catch his cubs
This is not a proverb unique to China but perhaps the imagery is quintessentially Chinese. The tiger in Chinese culture is considered to be the King of beasts. Therefore, its cubs are equally prized and worth obtaining. The proverb is telling us what, in latter day culture we define as “Nothing Ventured, nothing gained”
Proverb 4: Dig the well before you are thirsty
Don’t get caught with your pants down. This is what this proverb is telling us essentially. Plan ahead and do not manage crises. Don not wait until you are in dire straits before taking remedial action. This is similar to another Chinese proverb: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. This also warns against procrastination and lack of planning. The ant and the grasshopper, anyone?