Chinese Idiom Stories for Software Professionals: #6 A quiet man of sincerity attracts admiration (桃李不言,下自成蹊)

Be a doer, not a talker.

Zhimin Zhan
4 min readFeb 5, 2022

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Image Credit: https://www.wenshigu.com/gxbk/cydg/293410.html

This article is one of the “Chinese Idiom Stories for Software Professionals” series.

Story

Li Guang was an outstanding military general (184 BC - 199 BC ) in Han Dynasty. He was brave and witty, being excellent at riding and archery and achieved brilliantly in many battles. But he was usually taciturn. Li Guang cared about his soldiers. He ate in the same pot and slept in the same tent with the soldiers. He always shared the rewards that the emperor gave to him with his subordinates. Because of these, the soldiers loved him and fought bravely with him. On the day of his death, all his army and many people in the country cried.

In his “Records of the Grand Historian”, Sima Qian recounted Li Guang’s remarkable life. He commented: “General Li was upright and honest by nature, not good at words, and looked like a farmer in the countryside; but when he died, the whole country mourned for him. As the saying goes: ‘Peach and plum do not speak, yet a path is born beneath them.’”

Translation

The peach and the plum do not speak, yet a path is born beneath them.

Meaning

A man of sincerity attracts admiration. As long as something is of a high standard, it will be noticed and honoured eventually.

Japanese like this Chinese idiom. Seikei (成蹊) University was named based on this idiom (the last two characters). By the way, Shinzo Abe, former Japanese Prime Minister, graduated from this University.

Below is a photo I took on a street in Nagasaki. The governor of Nagasaki Prefecture wrote this idiom (first 4 characters: 桃李不言) for a clinic.

Examples in Software Development

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Zhimin Zhan

Test automation & CT coach, author, speaker and award-winning software developer. Help teams succeed with Agile/DevOps by implementing real Continuous Testing.