This book by Chin-Ning Chu touts itself as being able to help you suceed in life and work using the ancient wisdom of the East. Chin-Ning says that Thick face is a shield that when developed gives you the ability to put aside the negativity of others and exceed beyond the limitations that others impose on you. Black Heart is a method to develop a ruthless side that allows you to succeed where others fail.
The book incorporates a many ideas from two of my favourite strategy books ( both from the East ) - Sun Tzu, The Art of War and Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings. It is amazing to look at size of both of these books ( a maybe not even 100 pages ) when compared to strategy writings from the West ( which are 100's if not 1,000's of pages ). The biggest difference is probably the fact the Eastern philosophy speaks about 'The Way' ( or do in Japanese ). This means that whatever you do must become part of your everyday life. So if you study strategy then you must learn and apply its teaching in every aspect of your life. If you don't then you are no following “The Way”.
I found the point about negative traits most interesting. Most “traditional” self improvement courses, books, etc always seem to focus n your negative points. For example helping you manage your time better or organizing your time better. Chin-Ning speaks of embracing these negative and learning how to use them. Sure you need to work at improving them but don't waste all your time and energy on just that. You must forget that you have positive advantages in your being and you need to use these to move forward and not be held back by trying to eliminate your negatives constantly. This concept is a very interesting twist on “traditional” self help topics.
A good example is something like the “Postitive aspects of procrastination”. Basically Chin-Ning is saying that we should take time to just think and not do anything else. If we sometimes rush into things then they turn out badly. The concept of the Black Heart is interesting. Basically it means that you need to have the ability to “be mean” to get what you want. Chin-Ning is not advocating being evil but sometimes you do need to look after number one. It also means being a bit coy ( deceptive ) in your dealing with others, which she says Eastern culture thrive.
After reading the book I had an interesting business conversation during the week where the other party basically spilled the beans on their life when there was no need to do that. I was somwhat shocked at the conversation because I didn't expect this subject matter in a “business” conversation, however from the book I did see how people in business are far too willing to ceed others information that potentially can be used against them and they do it almost willingly.
All in all I found the book and excellent read and discovered that it stirred a generally deeper level of thought that I have had after reading other books. I would definately add this book to my top 10 list of “business must reads”.
Rating = 9.5 out of 10
You'll find more info about Chin-Ning Chu at her web site http://www.strategic.org