Liu Bei‘s life reminded me of this quote by Chuck Palahniuk: “You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet.”
Though he’d begun as a simple shoemaker, he did not allow himself to be contented with that. …Despite his immediate impoverished situation, Liu Bei harbored imperial ambitions. He did not limit himself to the contents of his pockets. It requires a grand leap of faith to operate beyond one’s perceived financial capabilities.
Liu Bei was known to have enjoyed sword-fighting, dogs, music, horses and fine-clothing more than he did his studies. Though he prepared himself thoroughly for the day that would become an emperor, he was fully aware that the field of scholarly studies was simply not his best asset.
This was why he’d employed the wisdom of Zhuge Liang, one of the most resourceful men in history. However, his respect for the talent of Zhuge Liang transcended his loyalty to blood.
Liu Bei knew that his responsibility, before being a father, was to make sure that his kingdom and people remained strong against constant the assailing of enemies. Were I in his shoes, I would have easily felt the pressure and the pain of such decisions. To be a leader, one should not easily fall into the entrapments of emotions; one does not simply choose between what is right and wrong but, what is more important, between what is better and best.
But even on his deathbed, Liu Bei had doubts about the abilities of his heir, instructing Zhuge Liang, “If my heir can be assisted, then assist him. If he has no talent, then take [the throne] yourself.”
In the end, it pays to be tough. Zhuge Liang did his best to assist Liu Bei’s son until his death. The son, however, proved incompetent and the kingdom quickly fell into the hands of its assailants.