Asian wisdom

Stephen Shapiro blogged yesterday about a fascinating concept: one derived from an Asian expression saying that you must learn to divide before you can multiply.

“Where can you multiply by first dividing? Where can you give a slice of your business to someone else? How can you grow your business while creating more income for others? ”

Now isn’t this a typically iconoclastic Asian viewpoint, smashing our Western preconceptions? Amazing the depth and breadth of their teachings, at long last available to us.

The every-man-for-himself, imperialist model we’ve revered for centuries in the West teaches that in building wealth and power, you amass the wealth and then gain power by dividing its benefits among your minions. The Asian tactic suggests the opposite: divide what you have amongst your supporters and then work to multiply it.

If we follow this different teaching, we are not sole owners of our businesses. We build wealth and power cooperatively, and not in a heroic solo struggle. Even – or maybe especially – if we are poor, even scrambling to survive, we share our can of beans and from that liaison seek to enrich. If we are rich, it’s an accomplishment we share with supporters and cannot claim for ourselves alone. Wealth then becomes a way to unite, as opposed to a way to isolate.

In what ways do you share your assets? Do you find yourself hoarding? Are you afraid of others who may steal your glory or your stash or your stuff? Do you spend more time protecting yourself than opening to yourself and others? Maybe it’s time to cop the Asian attitude, give it all away, learn to divide, and then allow it to come back to you multiplied.

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