Leadership lessons from Confucius: the search for goodness

search for goodness

子曰:「仁遠乎哉?我欲仁,斯仁至矣。」
Confucius said: “Is goodness really so far away? No sooner do I desire goodness than it’s at hand.”

The search for goodness is a cumulative process. The harder you work to hone your character, sharpen your skills, and deepen your knowledge, the closer you come to finding it. The key is to keep on striving towards it every day. There are no magical spells or five-step formulas to instant success. The greater the effort and commitment you put into it, the greater the rewards and satisfaction you will reap.

The search for goodness requires deciding what is truly important in your life and focusing on that. It means going deep rather than wide. Nobody can be good at everything. You simply don’t have the energy or time. To find true meaning, you need to dig deep below the surface rather than sitting atop a horse admiring the scenery.

The search for goodness entails striking a balance between your personal and professional life and your responsibilities to your family and community. If you overemphasize one aspect at the expense of the others, you will develop tunnel vision and lose your sense of perspective.

The search for goodness is above all about making the most of every moment. No matter whether you’re at home with your family, at work with your colleagues, or at your desk on front of your computer, it’s the constant desire to enjoy and explore the myriad wonders around you.

Notes

This article features a translation of Chapter 29 of Book 7 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 7 here.

I took this image at the Temple of Confucius in Changhua, Taiwan.

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