Leadership lessons from Confucius: threadbare clothes and coarse food

threadbare clothes

子曰:「士志於道,而恥惡衣惡食者,未足與議也!」
Confucius said: “A scholar who pursues the way but is ashamed of his threadbare clothes and coarse food is not worth talking to.” (1)

Follow the path that you believe in – not the one that you think will help you make the most money and bring you the greatest fame. That might mean making some minor sacrifices to begin with, but you will be much happier and more fulfilled over the long term because you are following your passion and doing something worthwhile.

Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: threadbare clothes and coarse food

Leadership lessons from Confucius: know the way at dawn

know the way at dawn

子曰:「朝聞道,夕死可矣!」
Confucius said: “Know the way at dawn; die without regret at dusk.”

Don’t jump to conclusions! Take some time to think before rushing to judgment – no matter how tempted you are to open your mouth or tap away at your keyboard to enlighten the world with the brilliance of your insights.

Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: know the way at dawn

Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on motivation

Confucius never promised a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for people who followed his way. He regarded it as everyone’s duty to cultivate their learning and behavior in line with his teachings. It probably never occurred to him to offer them any encouragement or incentives to help them along this lonely and difficult path. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on motivation

Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on culture

Culture

The character 文 (wén) originally meant “patterns”, though it is more often translated as “culture” or “civilization” as it refers to arts such as literature, calligraphy, music, ritual, mathematics, and even archery and charioteering. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on culture

Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on affectation

Throughout the Analects, Confucius repeatedly raises his concerns about people who fail to back up their promises with meaningful actions and behave in superficial ways designed to impress their peers with their morality and kindness rather than out of any genuine desire to follow the principles that they purportedly ascribe to. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on affectation

Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on reverence

Reverence

Reverence (恭/gōng) is one of the smaller stars in Confucius’s moral firmament, and can also be translated as “respectfulness”, “solemnity”, “gravity”, or simply “manners”. 

Reverence entails working hard at your studies and career and acting in a humble and serious manner when interacting with other people and attending ritual ceremonies. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on reverence

Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on love

Love

The sort of love (愛/ài) Confucius refers to in the Analects is driven by duty rather than emotion. When he advises in Chapter 5 of Book 1 that a ruler should “love your people”, he is essentially saying that the ruler has a responsibility to make sure that his subjects do not lack the basic necessities of life: nothing more and nothing less. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on love