Leadership lessons from Confucius: on tokenism

tokenism

子曰:「人而不仁,如禮何?人而不仁,如樂何?」
Confucius said: “If someone has no goodness, what can they have to do with the rites? If someone has no goodness, what can they have to do with music?” (1) (2)

Going to church every Sunday morning doesn’t make you a good Christian unless you’re committed to learning and applying the values that are being taught at the service. Not even the most inspiring hymns will be able to stir your soul if your only reason for being there is to make yourself look good in front of the community. You might as well stay in bed at home for all the good it will do you.

Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: on tokenism

Bracing walks in the crisp country air

bracing walks

There’s nothing like a few bracing walks in the crisp country air to clear the cobwebs out of your mind and build up some perspective on the developments of the past year. At least that’s what I’ve found myself doing during my daily peregrinations along the rutted paths of the fenscape.

Not surprisingly given the speed with which it has replaced IoT as the high-tech buzzword du jour, the subject of AI has been prominent in my thoughts. Are we really moving towards the long-predicted singularity in which the machines take charge and destroy humanity or are we going to harness this technology to help us solve the great challenges of our time such as climate change? Continue reading Bracing walks in the crisp country air

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: your choice

your choice

三家者以雍徹。子曰:「『相維辟公,天子穆穆』,奚取於三家之堂?」
When the Three Families had the Yong ode performed while the ceremonial vessels were being removed at the end of their ancestral sacrifices, Confucius said: “‘The lords are in attendance, the son of heaven sits solemnly on his throne.’ How can such words be used in the halls of the Three Families?” (1) (2)

Do you follow a traditional career path, perhaps taking a few liberties on the way to the top to show your importance? Or do you create your own path so that you can make your own rules? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: your choice

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: eight rows of dancers

eight rows of dancers

孔子謂季氏,「八佾舞於庭,是可忍也,孰不可忍也?」
When he heard that the head of the Ji Family used eight rows of dancers to perform in the ceremonies at his ancestral temple, Confucius commented: “If he is capable of that, what isn’t he capable of?” (1)

The higher you rise in your career, the easier it is to let your growing influence, power, and status go to your head and decide that the normal rules and conventions no longer apply to you. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: eight rows of dancers

Analects Book 2: resources

I’ve finished my analysis of Book 2 of The Analects. You can click on the links below to learn more about the main themes of the book, including governance, leadership, and learning:

Analects Book 2 translation
Analects of Book 2: overview
Analects Book 2 by numbers
Analects Book 2 presentation
Analects Book 2: followers of Confucius
Analects Book 2: contemporary figures
Analects Book 2: Confucius on leadership qualities
Analects Book 2: Confucius on lifelong learning
Analects Book 2: Confucius on balanced learning
Analects Book 2: Confucius on governance
Analects Book 2: Confucius on the rites
Analects Book 2: Confucius on the meaning of filial devotion
Analects Book 2: Confucius on trustworthiness
Analects Book 2: Confucius on culture
Analects Book 2: Confucius on law

Analects Book 2: Confucius on law

Law

As a magistrate in his home state of Lu, Confucius would have had plenty of opportunities to see at first hand the arbitrariness and brutality of the legal system that prevailed in ancient China. Justice was rare and punishments were extremely severe for the convicted, who faced summary dismemberment and execution. Even those who managed to evade such horrific sanctions were tattooed so that they were clearly identified as criminals after their sentence was completed. Continue reading Analects Book 2: Confucius on law

Analects Book 2: Confucius on governance

Governance

Confucius lived during turbulent times of great political and social instability, in which the various feudal states that comprised the decaying Zhou dynasty were vying with each other for supremacy and the aristocracies within each state were fighting with the hereditary ruling families to gain more influence and power. Continue reading Analects Book 2: Confucius on governance