Getting on in the world

Zizhang asked about getting on in the world. Confucius said: “If your words are sincere and trustworthy and your actions are honorable and respectful, you will get on in the world even among the barbarian tribes. If your words are insincere and untrustworthy, if you act without honor and respect, how can you possibly get on in the world even in your own village? When you stand, you should always have this principle in front of you. When you drive you should have it carved upon the yoke of your carriage; only then will you truly be able to move ahead.” Zizhang wrote this down on his sash.

Success comes from cultivating your inner self rather than chasing after its external trappings such as fame and wealth. This is what Confucius is telling his ambitious young disciple Zizhang in this passage. If you live up to the commitments you make and treat other people well, you are guaranteed to “get on” in the world (even if it may take longer than you hope).

To make sure you stay on the right track, it helps to keep regular reminders of your core values on your car dashboard and smart phone if you don’t happen to ride in a carriage or wear a sash.

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