Leadership lessons from Confucius: rush to judgement

rush to judgement

子曰:「惟仁者,能好人,能惡人。」
Confucius said: “Only a person who possesses goodness can love people and can hate people.”

Best not to rush to judgement about other people. Best not to idolize or demonize them either. Remain calm and dispassionate in evaluating what they do and what they say. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

Confucius is arguing rather obliquely that only a person who has achieved the sublime state of goodness has the wisdom and maturity to correctly determine who else is good and who is evil. As for the rest of us, we should focus our energy and talents on cultivating our own goodness rather than wasting them on adulating or condemning others for their alleged brilliance or wickedness.

That’s sound advice in a world where even the most innocuous comments on social media can instantly trigger our emotions to the most polarizing extremes.

Note

This article features a translation of Chapter 3 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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