The Wisdom of the I Ching

14. Modesty in a High Position

A person in a high position who is modest attracts to himself people of great ability. They come to him because they know that their voices will be heard and their contributions can be effective. An arrogant, immodest person attracts sycophants who seek only their own advancement and care little for great accomplishment, save as it advances their own interests. But a modest person can bring together great talents who have clear vision, and they can then unite to produce real advancement. Great men do not submit to tyrannical leadership, neither do they wish to enhance the pride of an autocrat; only a leader who will permit them to use and express their own great abilities can win their allegiance. Such a coordinated accumulation of great talent promises the highest degree of success possible.

The superior man who is modest becomes a great moral leader. Such a man must deal with matters of both good and evil. He shows direction, not by fiat and command, but by his offering of policies that genuinely promote good and stand up against evil. In this way, he brings all actions within the beneficial forces of Nature, and this can only promote favorable conditions for all he has influence over.

The Lines
1. [9] At the beginning of an enterprise, the great leader has not been tested and he is naturally free of mistakes. Yet he should realize that there are many difficulties yet to come, and that he must not assume he can expect great results just because things start off smoothly. He should pay close attention to problems as they arise and not succumb to overconfidence.

2. [9] The leader must know how to make use of the human resources at his disposal. By gathering to himself highly competent and willing helpers, he is able to accomplish far more than he possibly could working alone.

3. [9] A great leader who is modest devotes his talents to great works that will benefit all. He realizes that for his work on this earth to endure, he must give it away in this manner. The lesser man cannot do this, because his efforts are all directed to his own enrichment. As a result, the lesser man's works expire when he does.

4. [9] The great leader must associate with the wealthy and powerful. It is important that he avoid being caught up in their world of intrigues and accumulation. If he keeps his eyes on the work he wishes to accomplish, he will not be distracted and make mistakes.

5. [6] The dedication of the great leader attracts many followers. His honesty and commitment win them over. But the accolades of the crowd can induce him to lower himself to coarse and ignoble behavior, and thus undermine the great influence he has built up. Thus, a great leader maintains dignity in order to pursue his worthy goals.

6. [9] At the height of his achievement, the great leader who is modest receives honor and respect. His selfless devotion to the general good is recognized, and Heaven itself seems to favor him, because all that he does accords with the movement of Fate.


Top of This Page | Table of Hexagrams | Introduction & Contents