EXPERIENCE is the lens through which we view the world. If stained with adversity, we struggle or despair, if colored with prejudice, we see hate; if blackened with anger, we see evil. But if the lens of life is as clear as the purity of our hearts, we see truth.
This, the book “Thick Face, Black Heart” explains how a person’s experiences shape his conclusions on and responses to life. This book is about “thriving, winning and succeeding” in business and other aspects of life. It is about ruthlessness, albeit a non-destructive one, that the author claims one needs to “gain the freedom necessary to achieve the effective execution of your life’s tasks.”
Written with a candor and s fierceness that reveals a spirit unconquered by the dark side of humanity, the book maybe a magnifying lens that converts the sunlight of reality into a burning truth unacceptable to many people. The author’s world is the reality and the principles she espouses in the book are drawn from this reality.
The author’s dedication reveals the essence of her book.
Chin-Ning Chu dedicates the book “to the eternal warriors, the entrepreneurs of the world.” For her, the world may perhaps be a battleground, where man is seen as a warrior who without a shield and a weapon, will soon fall in battle. For Chin-Ning Chu, this shield is Thick Face, and the weapon, Black Heart. She explains that Thick Face is a shield “to protect yourself from the critics, and the negative opinion of others” and Black Heart is the spear “to do battle with others and yourself.”
To understand the book and the author, one must discern the lens through which the author of the book views life. Chin-Ning Chu is a daughter of landed parents in China whose wealth vanished with the coming into power of the Communists in China. In 1949, at the age of three, she and her family fled China for the safety of Taiwan. At the age of 22, she left Taiwan to immigrate to the United States. As an Asian and as a woman in treacherous corporate America, she faced innumerable odds before she finally achieved success in business.
From her wins and losses in the business world, Chin-Ning Chu was able to distill valuable, sometimes costly (for her), lessons in life that she now shares with her readers. As she explains the concepts of Thick Face, Black Heart, one slowly understands that strangely enough, righteousness and ruthlessness are who sides of the same coin.
Thick face as shield
The author states that Thick Face or the ability not to be affected by criticism is a shield to protect one’s self-esteem from the bad opinion of others. She writes: “A person adept at Thick Face creates his own positive self-image despite the criticism of others.” She believes that a belief in our worthiness to succeed is essential in being able to succeed and that Thick Face enables one to acknowledge that we are worthy of succeeding. She writes: “The thick-faced person has the ability to put self-doubt aside. He refuses to accept the limitations that others have tried to impose on him, and more importantly, he does not accept any of the limitations that we commonly impose on ourselves.” She emphasizes that “By his absolute self-confidence, the thick-faced person instills confidence in others. They see him as successful and allow him latitude to succeed.”
Black Heart as weapon
The author writes that Black Heart is the ability to act without regard to how the consequences will affect other people. She claims that “A Black Heart is ruthless, but it is not necessarily evil.” Explaining this claim, she likens Black Heart to the decisiveness of a physician who in order to cure must be detached from the pain he might cause a patient in the course of the treatment. She also compares Black Heart to the determination of a general who in ordering soldiers in battle must in the process send some to their deaths or else face defeat at the hands of his country’s enemies. The author writes also that: “The entrepreneur must be able to make hard decisions regarding unprofitable operations. If he cannot, his company will fail.”
Aside from single-mindedness, the black–hearted person, writes Chin-Ning Chu, also has the courage to fail. For without this courage to take risks, a person cannot take effective action to achieve his goals.
The Evil Side
Chin-Ning Chu is aware that the principles of Thick Face, Black Heart can be used for evil as well as good. But for the author, the proper application of Thick Face, Black Heart is to use it for Dharma. She writes that Dharma is the sustaining force of the world, the divine coherence of the universe. She believes that each individual has a dharma or a duty in the universe to perform and that an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, station in life, opportunities and experiences all combine to lead him to a discovery of his dharma. The author believes that in order to fulfill one’s dharma, one must use Thick Face, Black Heart.
She writes: “Dharma is the foundation of Thick Face, Black Heart. In order for one to successfully become a righteous Thick Face, Black Heart practitioner who is willing to win at all costs but without regard for the consequences to other people. Only by maintaining this awareness of Dharma will we begin to gain insight into what is required for proper discrimination in thought and in action.”
Lens of Adversity
“Thick Face, Black Heart” is a view of the world through the lens of adversity. This is why its theme is about struggle and its principles are about winning in the battle of life. However, inside its pages, one can see the anguish of a spirit that longs to find a world filled with love instead of a world filled with self-interests and betrayal: a human being that wants to drop the mask of Thick Face and the burden of Black Heart but must wearily wear her shield and carry her weapon to fulfill her destiny in life.
Perhaps, many of us view the world through the same lens as that of Chin-Ning Chu. Perhaps we feel that Chin-Ning Chu, like many of us, views life through the lens of a pure heart and thus, the ideas espoused by Chin-Ning Chu are indeed part of the universal truth.
Though the book creates faith and doubt at the same time. It is fast gaining adherents despite its harsh advice on how to survive and succeed in this world. It is becoming the new handbook of success in the same way that Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich,” motivated many readers from the 40s to the 80s with its concept of positive thinking.
Chin-Ning Chu is now a successful entrepreneur in America, a product of her efforts which her book portrays. President of Asian Marketing Consultants and Executive Director of RIM Master Group, she is in demand worldwide for her services as a consultant, lecturer and trainer. This coming May, she will speak in San Francisco to 10,000 human resource professionals from the United States and around the world about the concepts in her book at the 1998 Conference and Exposition of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), an indication that her philosophy is now accepted as one of the latest trends in management. It would be interesting to see and hear this author in person and perhaps learn more about the book that provides answers but raises more questions on how to succeed in this world.
Thick Face, Black Heart
By Chin-Ning Chu Warner Books,
New York, USA 1994, 369 Pages
Author: Regina Galang Reyes. First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer January 26, 1998.
Photo credit: www.sxc.hu