Wood and wind on a mountain side with nourishing water flowing down its slopes. This is the image conjured up by hexagram 53 (漸/jiàn) from my consultation of the I Ching this morning.
Combining a lower trigram representing bound (艮/gèn) or mountain (山/ shān) with an upper trigram representing ground (巽/xùn) or wind (風/fēng) which also symbolizes wood, this hexagram means gradual progress and development. Its meaning is further emphasized by a “hidden” trigram for water comprising lines 2,3, and 4.
The core message of the hexagram is a warning that no matter how hard you try to push change, it risks being blown away by the wind if you don’t plant the seedlings on welcoming ground, nurture the saplings with close attention and care, and let the trees grow at a natural and sustainable pace.
This can be a hard lesson for people to swallow in this world of breathless hype that we live in. Although many startups and their investors would like to convince us that they are “unicorns” because of their magical “disruptive” technology, the vast majority of them will die long before they come anywhere near reaching that exalted state because of their failure to build a solid foundation for their business.
The same principle applies to my own work as well. Potential customers are not going to immediately place an order for a product even if I send them a perfectly-crafted promotional email. Building up a close and productive relationship and developing mutual understanding takes considerable time and investment.
If you attempt to push change too quickly, your aggressiveness will probably backfire on you. The harder you try to drive somebody in one direction, the more likely they are to resist or even go in another one. This is the admonition I received from the commentary on line 4 and line 6 of the hexagram (for which I shook a six and a nine respectively).
The key to moving a relationship forward, whether it’s between a manager and their team or a supplier and customer, is to achieve a point of common interest or “resonance” (咸/xián). This is the meaning of hexagram 31, which resulted from my conversion of lines four and six. Like hexagram 53, it delivers a powerful metaphor from nature, combining the unchanged lower trigram representing mountain with the complementary trigram for open (兌/duì) or lake (澤/zé). With the yin of the mountain and yang of the lake coming together, a whole new level of creative cooperation is possible!