From ET 123, Michael’s book English Thinking: The Three Methods

Chinese thinking is different to Western ET 1 thinking because they do not both share the same cultural evolution. Chinese thinking methods obviously did not evolve out of a medieval bellicose Roman church.

For example, a dominant strategy of ET 1 thinking is to be First. This seems logical to the Western mind because, after all, I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong.

But to the Chinese mind the preferred strategy is not to be First but to be Second. In the words of the father of modern China, Deng Xiaoping:

Keep cool-headed to observe, be composed to make reactions, stand firmly, hide our capabilities and bide our time, never try to take the lead, and be able to accomplish something.

There are some Western leaders who also understand the beneficial paradox of the 2 strategy and Jack Welch of GE was a good example. Except in the very few situations, like boxing or poker when it’s a zero sum game, 2 is often a far superior strategy to 1. Have a think about it.

There is much that Western business can learn from Deng Xiaopeng’s ideas.

My personal experience is that many Westerners, even in 2012, are still pre-Enlightenment ET 1 thinkers. While they may know about the Enlightenment and be able to describe some of its breakthroughs their default position is still ET 1 thinking.

On the other hand, while it is true that the Chinese clearly have much to do and many issues of their own to work through and to improve and further develop, my own observation is that they are largely post-Enlightenment ET 2 thinkers.

They deeply understand the ET 2 evolutionary approach compared with the West’s ET 1 revolutionary approach and this gives them a great advantage going forward into the many possible futures. It will be interesting to see where this takes them in the next few decades.

One thought on “When 2nd can be better than 1st …

  1. If they can do the balancing well, with their kind of thinking and determination they must be able to go very far indeed.

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