Career guidance

Zizhang was studying with the aim of securing an official position. Confucius said: “Listen for as much information as possible, ignore anything that is suspect, and be cautious when talking about the rest; that way you will only rarely say anything out of place. Observe as much as possible, ignore anything that is dangerous, and be cautious about applying the rest to your actions; that way you will rarely have reason for regret. By making few mistakes in what you say and minimizing the number of regrets caused by missteps, your career is set.”

Some solid advice from Confucius on how to on how to start climbing the greasy bureaucratic ladder: the watchword is caution.

Perhaps Confucius is talking from his own bitter experience. His own rapid rise up the ranks of officialdom in his home state of Lu came to an abrupt end because he overreached himself by challenging the interests of the so-called Three Families that were the de-facto rulers of it.

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