Moderation and self-cultivation

子曰:「君子食無求飽,居無求安,敏於事而慎於言,就有道而正焉,可謂好學也已。」
Confucius said: “A leader eats without stuffing his belly; chooses a home without demanding comfort; is quick to act but careful in what he says; and keeps the company of others who possess the Way so that he can be corrected by them. This is what it means to truly love learning.”

Leadership is about cultivating your inner self rather than being concerned about personal comforts. This is a theme that Confucius regularly returns to throughout the Analects, hammering home the need for moderation and adherence to traditional values.

Given that Confucius wasn’t afraid to voice such opinions to the rulers he visited during his wanderings after leaving the state of Lu, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that he was unsuccessful in securing a major appointment with any of them. No doubt he would achieve exactly the same result if he were to promote this hair shirt approach to today’s governing class.

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