Mandarin on Mondays, 临渊羡鱼,不如退而结网


1. 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 emperor to use systematic manner to govern a country.

Does having a grandeur vision or goal justify the means/process? While having a grand goal is important, the “how to” accomplish is equally important.
Otherwise, is it not like “building castles in the air”, an illusion.

This proverb is a useful reminder not to fixate too much on our goals but work also on strategies. Strategies need to be revised, irrelevant ones discarded and opportune ones devised to adapt to changing trends.



Source of Chinese meaning from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: