Leadership lessons from Confucius: happy new year!

Confucius said: “When you serve your lord in full accordance with ritual, people regard you as a sycophant.” (1)

Take your own path. Don’t waste precious time and energy worrying what other people are thinking or saying about you.

At times this may make you feel lonely, but that shouldn’t stop you from sticking to your path. Remember that it’s your life. You get to choose how you lead it – nobody else can.

Something to think about as 2019 approaches. Happy New Year!


This article features a translation of Chapter 18 of Book 3 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 3 here.

(1) Confucius is no doubt speaking from personal experience here. For all his eloquence, his attempts to promote a return to traditional values were met with indifference at best, though probably more often with ridicule and cynicism. Despite all the doubts and sneers from others, he maintained his values until the very end of his life.

I took this image at the Confucius Temple on Nishan (尼山) – the hill on which, according to popular belief, Confucius was born and possibly even conceived. You can read more about Nishan here.

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