“Don’t be concerned that you haven’t secured an official position; be concerned that you have what it takes to secure one. Don’t be concerned that you aren’t recognized for your abilities; be concerned that you deserve to be recognized for your abilities.”
It’s never been easier to gain the paper qualifications required for a prestigious, well-paid position in government or business thanks to the massive expansion of higher education that has taken place over the past few decades. But that also means competition for the plummest posts has never been fiercer.
It’s never been easier either to grab your five minutes of fame thanks to the proliferation of the Internet, the smart phone, and social media that has taken place during the same period. But that also means competition for people’s eyeballs has never been greater.
Don’t get caught up in the career expectations vortex. Concentrate on what you love most and what you do best without worrying about whether it will result in your dream job. It may take longer than you had initially hoped, but the more you develop your skills and hone your craft the greater your chance of achieving more than you ever thought you were capable of.
Don’t get caught up in the online attention vortex either. There’s no need to thrust yourself into the limelight by saying something stupid that will come back to bite you later. Pursue your passion with all the energy and enthusiasm you can muster. It may take time, but ultimately you will make meaningful connections that are worth more than thousands of nameless followers and soulless likes.
This article features a translation of Chapter 14 of Book 4 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 4 here.
(1) Confucius regularly emphasizes the need for people to concentrate on cultivating their own talent and character rather than worry about whether others recognize them. Other passages on this theme include 1.1, 1.16, 12.20, and 14.30.
I took this image at the Taipei Confucius Temple.