Leadership lessons from Confucius: hopes and aspirations

deepest hopes and aspirations

When Yan Hui and Zilu were sitting together with him, Confucius said: “How about telling me what you would most like to do?” Zilu said: “I would like to share my carriages, horses, clothes, and furs with my friends without getting upset if they damage them.” Yan Hui said: “I would like to avoid boasting about my abilities or causing trouble for others.” Zilu said: “We would love to hear what our master would most like to do.” Confucius said: “I would like to provide comfort to the elderly, be faithful to my friends, and cherish the young.” (1)

No matter how immersive technology becomes, nothing will ever replace face-to-face communication. It’s only when you can truly look someone in the eye that you can share your deepest hopes and aspirations.

While a host of chat, videoconferencing, social media, and other virtual collaboration applications can definitely improve day-to-day interaction and coordination, when it comes to serious stuff there’s no substitute for getting on a train or a plane to talk with someone in person.


This article features a translation of Chapter 26 of Book 5 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 5 here.

(1) Since this passage is written in a very different style to the preceding chapters in Book 5, it’s quite possible that it was added at a later stage by an anonymous scribe for some unknown reason. It could even be a prototype of Chapter 26 of Book 11 of the Analects, which explores the same idea in much greater detail and even more lyrical language.

I took this image at the Tainan Confucius Temple.

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