Leadership lessons from Confucius: a good rant

good rant

子曰:「我未見好仁者,惡不仁者。好仁者,無以尚之;惡不仁者,其為仁矣,不使不仁者加乎其身。有能一日用其力於仁矣乎?我未見力不足者。蓋有之矣,我未之見也。」
Confucius said: “I’ve never seen anyone who truly loves goodness and truly detests evil. Anyone who truly loves goodness would place nothing above it; anyone who truly detests evil would practice goodness in such a way that they would allow no evil to enter them. Is there anyone with the ability to devote all their strength to goodness for a single day? I’ve never seen anyone whose strength is insufficient. There may be people who don’t have even the small amount of strength it takes, but I’ve never seen them.”

There’s nothing wrong with having a good rant now and then to get things off your chest. Except of course you should realize that harsh words and blanket condemnations are more likely to have a counter-productive effect on the people you are trying to sway than persuade them to follow your way.

Confucius is at his best when he points to the need for leaders to set the right example for others to follow through their conduct and comportment. Lashing out in frustration and anger at everyone for their failure to “devote all their strength to goodness for a single day” does nothing to help him further his cause.

Note

This article features a translation of Chapter 6 of Book 4 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 4 here.

I took this image at the Taipei Confucius Temple.

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