Leadership lessons from Confucius: filled with goodness

filled with goodness

子曰:「里仁為美。擇不處仁,焉得知?」
Confucius said: “It’s beautiful to live in a neighborhood that’s filled with goodness. How can someone be wise if they choose to live in a place that lacks goodness?” (1)

Think carefully before choosing which organization to work for. Although reputation, salary package, and future prospects are important, the key factor in your decision should be its culture.

While all organizations like to promise that they offer a great working environment, it’s important to search beyond the fine words and aspirational platitudes to find out the reality behind them before committing yourself. Fortunately, carrying out deep research about the organization and reaching out to people who’ve worked there has never been easier. There’s no excuse for not doing the necessary due diligence.

Culture is going to be even more important as the pace of automation ramps up. Does the organization see it as an opportunity for enabling its members to boost their knowledge and skills and to take on more interesting and rewarding assignments? Or does it see it as a way of reducing costs by replacing people with algorithms and robots?

These are the questions you need to consider in order to determine whether the organization you’re thinking about joining is filled with goodness.

Notes

This article features a translation of Chapter 1 of Book 4 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 4 here.

(1) Book 4 of the Analects takes a deep dive into the characteristics of goodness (仁/rén), the cardinal virtue of Confucius’s thought. The term has been variously translated as “humanity”, “humaneness”, “benevolence”, and even “love”.

I took this image at the Taipei Confucius Temple.

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