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  • Janus Chan

舍得 She De


Picture credit: 字魂


Chinese words are very interesting. The words that we often used, we rarely look deeper than the surface of the meaning.


Let’s look at two Chinese characters – 舍 (she) and 得 (de). These two words when combined 舍得 in Chinese means to be willing to part with something. When we break up the words, on surface meaning for each character, 舍 is “give” and 得 is “receive”. In fact, 舍得 is more than just give and receive.


In 易经 (I-Ching) where the words were originated, it has a more profound meaning, especially for the word 舍 (she). When we 舍, we are giving without any request for return of favour, emotional attachments or conditions. Then we can 得 the fruits of the 舍. This is very important especially we are talking about building trust in any personal and professional relationships. We need to give first before we can reap any returns. Hence, 舍 is placed before the 得.


However, most of us live the other way round – 得舍. Everyone is expecting to get something first from the other party before he or she gives. Sometimes, we just want to receive and not give. Such relationship would not go very deep and it won’t go very far. It will not be genuine.

Grab started by giving out a lot of free and heavily discounted rides when they started in Singapore. Their promotions include free rides and heavy discounts. The discounts were so attractive that each ride would be cheaper taking a bus or MRT. This gets people talking about it. Grab also reward consumers to download their App by giving free rides. They also encouraged their consumers to recommend their friends to the App and use their service. When any friends downloaded the App, both would be rewarded with free rides or discounts.


Today, the consumers got used to the convenience. Out of 10 Singaporeans, 9 has the Grab App in their phones. No one give a 2nd thought about discounts and they would whip out their phone and hail a ride. Grab started off by 舍 by giving free rides and heavy discounts. By 舍, Grab, not only kicked out their rival, Uber, in Singapore, they 得 more than just being a company for PHV. They convinced the consumers to choose them over other alternatives by giving out first. Today, instead just running transportation, they expanded their business to food delivery, mode of payment and other businesses.


How can we apply 舍得 in our context? Perhaps you have a new business that you want people to talk about. How do your apply 舍得 to make your business grow?