"Study requires calm, talent requires study. Without study there is no way to expand talent; without calm there is no way to accomplish study."
| Zhuge Liang's advice to his son |
Zhuge Liang (Kongming), born 181 lived in the turbulent times of the declining HAN Dynasty and during the times of the Three Kingdoms. From his death in 234 until now, memories, stories and legends have created a myth around Zhuge Liang ... by many regarded as the most intelligent and successful strategist of all times. However not all stories are true, so let's start looking at what we really know about Zhuge Liang: Chen Shou wrote Sanguozhi (Records of Three Kingdoms) in 274 - only 40 years after Kongming's death. This book is regarded as the closest we will get to the person of Zhuge Liang. So let's start our journey here:
by Chen Shou in Sanguozhi (Records of the Three Kingdoms)
As the Chancellor of the State, Zhuge Liang pacified the commoners, elucidating proper behaviour and the moral standard. He simplified the administration and established timely, just policies; speaking frankly and sincerely. In dealing with the loyal and useful, he would reward them even if he felt enmity against them. In dealing with the criminal and heinous, he would dispense punishment if they were friends or relatives. In dealing with those who confessed and truly repented, he would be merciful even if their crimes were serious. In dealing with those who were glib-tongued and deceitful, he would be punitive even if their crimes were trivial. A benevolence no matter how minute would be rewarded. A malevolence no matter how slight would be castigated. In all affairs his administration was precise and penetrating, organising from the fundamentals, serving needs according to the true situation. He detested most the practise of deception. In the finality, all within the state esteemed him. Even though the legal system was severe, none despised him because his justice was fair and open. It can be said that he was exceptional in administration and the like of Guan Zhong and Xiao He. Yet year after year he marshalled the army and never attained success, probably because flexibility of strategy was never his forte.
Read the full Zhuge Liang (Kongming) Biography from Chen Shou's Sanguozhi here: Zhuge Liang Biography.
In the winter of 208 Cao Cao led a large army on a southern campaign. The allied armies of Sun Quan and Liu Bei were massed on the south bank of the Yangtze River. They planned to attack the warships of Cao Cao with blazing barges. When all the preparations for the attack were completed, they called to mind that the wind in winter always blew from the northwest, and so would blow the fire barges back toward their own ships. So an east wind was needed for the attack. Zhuge Liang said that he could summon an east wind, and he did so... The result was that Cao Cao's ships were burnt to ashes.
Later, the phrase came to be used to describe a situation in which all is ready except what is crucial for the fulfillment of an undertaking.
This allusion is taken from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.