Dooming yourself to failure


Ran Qiu said: “It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Master’s way, but I don’t have the strength to follow it.” Confucius said: “He who doesn’t have the strength can always give up halfway. But you’ve already given up before you’ve even started.”

Quite a sharp put-down for Ran Qiu from Confucius but a fully-justified one nonetheless: if you’ve already made up your mind that you won’t succeed with a project then there’s no point in starting it because you’ve already doomed yourself to failure.

Unlike so many modern-day proponents of positive thinking, Confucius is refreshingly realistic about the prospect of people actually being able to stick it out to reach their goal, but he’s also kind and wise enough to offer them a get-out clause should they stumble along the way. Unlike his disciple, he preferred to consider a glass half-full rather than half-empty.

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