Unveiling Thick Face, Black Heart : The Path to Thriving, Winning and Succeeding

Embracing Resilience and Purpose: Unpacking the Big Ideas of ‘Thick Face, Black Heart

Allow me to share what I feel are some of the best quotations from Chin-Ning Chu’s book, Thick Face, Black Heart: The Warrior Philosophy for Conquering the Challenges of Business and Life.

Unveiling Thick Face, Black Heart : The Path to Thriving, Winning and Succeeding

Great insight. Great wisdom. Dwell on each phrase. Chew slowly. Digest deliberately, and apply diligently.

The title of the book is drawn from a quote by Lee Zhong Wu – ‘When you conceal your will from others, that is thick. When you impose your will on others, that is black.’

The world has a tendency to accept our own judgment of ourselves. By his absolute self-confidence, the thick-faced person instills confidence in others. They see him as successful and allow him the latitude to succeed.

I have seen many people grow old, but not graciously. Their eyes reflect pain and disillusionment. They have been beaten by life; they have so many broken dreams. The hope and expectations of youth have vanished — only death awaits…Unlike the warrior who accepts harsh discipline as a privilege and honor, these people are like pieces of grain caught in the millstone, ground down by the wheel of life, in agony and in pain.

Contrary to common understanding, a good man’s actions are not always gentle. They may be ruthless, cold, and dispassionate. A friend of mine once made a very profound statement when he said, “When people act overly nice, I always wonder about their motives.”

A good man lives in harmony with himself – he neither seeks nor needs external approval.

Often we are so concerned with what makes us feel good that we forget what makes us great. Understanding how to surmount pain, doubt, and failure is an important aspect of the game of winning at life.

Character is not made of sunshine and roses. Like steel, it is forged in fire, between the hammer and the anvil.

Most of us were taught that when someone slaps you, you should turn the other cheek. This is not always the best course of action. There is a time to submit to being slapped and there is a time to hit back twice so you will not be slapped again.

Success also requires the courage to risk disapproval. Most independent thought, new ideas, or endeavors beyond the common measure are greeted with disapproval, ranging from skepticism and ridicule to violent outrage. To persevere in anything exceptional requires inner strength and the unshakable conviction that you are right.

A couple of years ago, I conducted a radio interview with Joseph Barbera, the founder of Hanna-Barbera Studios and creator of the animated cartoon classics “Yogi Bear,” “Tom and Jerry,” plus many more. During our conversation, he spoke of how perfectly his life had turned out. He said that sometimes when you are in the midst of it, it may not seem to be going well, but when you look back, then the perfection is apparent.

The world unfolds to its own rhythm and purpose. It is important for you to strive beyond common human understanding, beyond preconceptions of what should be and what shouldn’t be. In time, you will see the perfection in the seemingly imperfect manifestations of the world.

There is a popular Chinese maxim: “The hat is good, the shoes are good. However, if you put the hat on your feet, and the shoes on your head, then both become useless.”

Often the bravest warriors were originally the greatest cowards. The more fear you confront and conquer, the greater courage you will possess.

I spent the first part of my life in provincial China and the subsequent years in modern America. Time and time again, I have noticed how customs that seem of such fundamental and unquestioned importance in one culture reveal themselves to be trivial and arbitrary when viewed from the perspective of a different culture.

If you are not concerned about the outcome of a circumstance, you will experience no fear. Whatever the outcome will be, will be, whether you fear it or not.

There is a popular Chinese maxim: “A nation may support its troops for thousands of years to prepare for the few moments when they will be needed.”

When a nation begins to disproportionately place value on individuals who can generate the largest sums of money within the shortest time as a measure of success, the nation’s character has to suffer.

God is not democratic.

A good phrase from the ancient Chinese elucidates this point: “Dripping water, in time, will cut a hole through the stone.”

Mankind is notoriously too dense to read the signs that God sends them from time to time. We require drums to be beaten into our ears, before we would wake from our trance and hear the warning. — Mahatma Gandhi.

I was recently giving a lecture before a large African-American audience. My audience told me that since some of them were born black and poor, they felt they already had a slow start in life from the beginning. I replied, “Look at Dr. Martin Luther King. If he had been born white and rich, what would he have made of himself? He’d be just another smart white boy.”

These simple rules of discrimination are common among the world’s businessmen and political leaders, as well as among Chinese dogs. In deciding between whose favor they should curry and whom they should attack, they all tend to grovel before the wealthy and powerful and act viciously toward the poor and weak.

If Gandhi’s adversary had been Hitler instead of the honorable British, he said he would have employed a different strategy. Gandhi said, “I make no hobgoblin of consistency. If I am true to myself from moment to moment, I do not mind all the inconsistencies that may be flung in my face. There is consistency that is wide and a consistency that is foolish. A man who, in order to be consistent, would go bare bodied in the hot sun of India or the sunless midwinter of Norway would be considered a fool and would lose his life in the bargain.”

Not so long ago, Middle Eastern terrorists took Russian personnel hostage. KGB agents responded swiftly by kidnapping close relatives of the responsible terrorist leaders. The KGB cut off body parts of the relatives and sent them along with notes warning that the terrorists’ wives and children would be the next targets of retribution if the Russian prisoners were not immediately released. The hostages were quickly released, and no Russian has been taken hostage since.

When you corner a dog and give him no way out, he will jump over the wall, whether he wants to or not.

Strange but true, we often abuse those who support and love us the most.

I am able to love my God because He gives me the freedom to deny Him. — Rabindranath Tagore.

Through our free will, topped with a healthy dose of ignorance and confusion, we often handle our lives like a blind man driving an automobile. The only way we manage to stop is by crashing.

Arnold Schoenberg, the great twentieth-century composer, once stated that the problem with modern man is that he has no tolerance for discomfort. Schoenberg would have been appalled to see the extravagance of the 1980s.

A friend of mine once said that the entrepreneur is a person who, in order to avoid working eight hours a day, works sixteen hours a day.

Lee (Zhong Wu) says that a man rises in the world exactly to the same degree that he fears his wife. The peasant treats his wife like a dog or a horse. As a consequence, he is little more than a beast himself. A man who fears his wife will conduct his life properly in order to please her. By conducting his life properly, he will rise in the world. To such a man, his wife becomes a source of strength and a refuge from the misfortunes of the world.