Leadership Lessons from Confucius: stuck in a rut?

stuck in a rut?

子曰:「知之者不如好之者,好之者不如樂之者。」
Confucius said: “Those who know the way are not the equal of those who love it; those who love the way are not the equal of those who take joy in it.” (1)

Whatever path you decide to take in life, you won’t get very far if you simply go through the motions as you make your way along it. If you can’t muster any passion for what you’re doing, then take some time to think about what you really want to do with your time on this planet.

Perhaps you’ll find after due reflection that you’ve simply become stuck in a rut and need a short break or change in role to rekindle your enthusiasm. Or perhaps you’ll discover that you want to pursue a completely different path.

If the latter’s the case, don’t rush blindly into a new direction. Take some time to find out what making a move will require and look underneath the lid to make sure that the reality matches your expectations. It’s not necessarily greener on the other side.

Notes

This article features a translation of Chapter 20 of Book 6 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 6 here.

(1) There are various interpretations of what Confucius is referring to with the character 之 (zhī), which means “it”. Some scholars suggest “learning” or “knowledge”, while others opt for “truth” or “way”. All of them make equal sense. The choice is yours.

I took this image at the Temple of Mencius in Zoucheng, a small town near to Qufu. You can read more about it here.

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