From “Wisdom’s Way”
This conversation occurred in 312 B.C. during the Warring States period. China ws unfortunately in disunity as a handful of kings and lords jockeyed for domination. The country of Yang had been devastated by a palace insurrection and an invasion, and the older ruler had suffered an untimely and humiliating death. After visiting the sacked city and wounded soldiers, the new king Yang-Jau was disturbed, and wondered how a similar situation could be prevented.
“How should I manage my country?” he asked one of his advisors, a man named Guo Wai.
“Your majesty, if you want to be an Emperor,” the advisor explained, “You should treat your subordinates as teachers. To be a King, you should treat them as friends. To be Lord, you should treat them as guests. If you wish to ruin your country, if I may say, you should treat them as servants or even slaves. The choice is yours alone.”
Impressed and a little surprised, the king politely returned, “Your statement is very interesting. Since I desire to be an Emperor, whom should I begin to respect?”
“Your Majesty might start with me,” the advisor boldly suggested, “a little-known person. As a result, other capable individuals, with greater reputations, will be envious and come to try their political fortunes here. These intellectuals, whose counsel you seek and esteem, having heard of your generosity and expecting to be treated likewise, will confidently approach Your Majesty and freely present their ideas and suggestions. Your Majesty may then choose the best administers from among them. Thus our country’s prosperity and Your Majesty’s potency is surely secured.
The king was well pleased and acted swiftly. Besides providing his advisor with an exceptionally generous salary, this smart ruler also ordered his royal architect to design and construct a splendid villa for him. This news rapidly spread among neighboring countries. Hearing this, people were amazed. Many well-educated gentleman resigned their current positions and relocated themselves to this country. In less than three years, after meticulous selections and severe competitions, a handful of distinguished and competent foreigners were properly appointed, with similar generous treatment from the king. They helped him to efficiently manage his country and steadily expand its borders.
Moral: Utilize the wisdom of others to establish one’s success.