The Emotional Intelligence of Qin Shi Huang

The Art Gallery of NSW is holding an exhibition of the Entombed Warriors of Qin Shi Huang, China’s First Emperor. Along with the exhibition, the Art Gallery is showing a series of Chinese films. I managed to see four, including two portraying Qin Shi Huang himself: Hero and The Emperor and the Assassin.
I am often asked if there are differences between cultures with regard to EQ and my answer is always the same. Each of us is born with the same seven temperament components but for each of us the mix is unique. If the two films are any guide, Qin Shi Huang was of the great Politicans (using Humm term in the sense of a desire to win) of history.
The great Chinese director, Zhang Yimou directed Hero which was one of the few foreign-language films to debut at number 1 at the US box office. The story is fiction, but nevertheless it is a terrific film with countless flashbacks and twists and turns. In the film, Qui Shi Huang is portrayed as highly intelligent, perceptive, paranoid and ruthless. His decision at the finish of the film to sacrifice someone he admires for the good of the organisation is a decision that leaders often have to take (though not generally so cinematic.)

The Emperor and the Assassin is much more docudrama. It describes the early life of Qin Shi Huang, and then moves on to the assassination attempt by Jing Ke. Again, while long, it is worth seeing, particularly as it stars Gong Li. (I will never understand how she was not nominated nor did not win the Best Supporting Actress for Memoirs of a Geisha.) This film is much more about the psychological development of Qui Shi Huang, from his early enthronement as the King of Qin, till the failure of the assassination attempt. During the film Qin Shi Huang is portrayed as changing from the “unifier” of China and bringing peace to the Middle Kingdom into a megalomaniacal, brutal tyrant who had an obsessive fear of assassination.

Qin Shi Huang was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He defeated the other six states and became the First Emperor of a unified China in 221 BC. He ruled until his death in 210 BC at the age of 49.

Qin Shi Huang is a pivotal figure in Chinese history, ushering nearly two millennia of imperial rule. After unifying China, he divided the country into 36 regions and then passed a series of major reforms including a new Chinese script, a new currency and a new system of weights and measures. He undertook gigantic projects, including the first version of the Great Wall of China, the now famous city-sized mausoleum guarded by a life-sized Terracotta Army, and a massive national road system, all at the expense of numerous lives. To ensure stability, Qin Shi Huang outlawed and burned many books, as well as burying some scholars alive. He died searching for the secret of immortal life.

Not until Napoleon did another ruler make such changes nor be responsible for the death of so many of his people. And they both had very similar personalities. Hyperactive, totally focused on being top of the pile, and ruthless in the treatment of those below them.


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