Prepare your net

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Photo credit: M from COOS

临渊羡鱼,不如退而结网。
lín yuān xiàn yú,bù rú tuì ér jié wǎng
《汉书·董仲书传》《han shū · dǒng zhòng shū zhuàn 》

Rather than admire the abundance of fish [opportunities in front] of the lake, why not retreat to sew your net [to catch the fish].

This proverb was used as a parable from 董仲舒, a politician and a philosopher, who warned the Han emperor to use systematic/benevolent manner to govern a country.

Its about goals and process. Does the goal justify the means/process? While having a grand goal is important, the how to accomplish is equally important.
Otherwise it is akin to “building castles in the air”, an illusion.

《汉书·董仲舒传》,书中说:“故汉得天下以来,常欲治而至今不可善治者,失之于当更化而不更化也。

古人有言曰:‘临渊羡鱼,不如退而结网。’”意思是说,汉朝希望国家能得到很好的治理,却没有达到这个目的,原因在于“当更化而不更化”,也就是没有在观念上、制度上做出必要的改革和调整,于是他借“临渊羡鱼,不如退而结网”这句古训,来告诫统治者,要治理好国家,必须抓住观念、制度这个根本。

“临渊羡鱼,不如退而结网”这一典故,也告诫人们,在目的与手段之间,有明确的目的固然重要,但如果没有实现这一目的的必要手段,目的将是空幻而不切实际的。

Source of mandarin write-up
https://zhidao.baidu.com/question/1302103067889920139.html

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