Leadership lessons from Confucius: embracing new challenges

embracing new challenges

牢曰:「子云:『吾不試,故藝。』
Lao stated: “Confucius said: ‘Since I was never appointed to high public office I mastered the arts.’” (1) (2) (3)

Don’t beat yourself up too much if you fail to get your dream job. Other opportunities will come along if you continue to work hard and broaden your experience and knowledge. The key is to keep on learning by embracing new challenges and developing new areas of interest. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: embracing new challenges

Leadership lessons from Confucius: real world experience

real world experience

大宰問於子貢曰:「夫子聖者與!何其多能也?」子貢曰:「固天縱之將聖,又多能也。」子聞之曰:「大宰知我乎?吾少也賤,故多能鄙事。君子多乎哉?不多也!」
The Grand Steward asked Zigong: “Your master’s a true sage, isn’t he? He’s skilled in so many things.” Zigong replied: “Heaven indeed made him a sage, but he also happens to have many different skills.” When he heard of this, Confucius said: “What does the Grand Steward know about me? In my youth I was poor, so I had to learn a number of menial skills. Does a leader usually have so many different skills? I don’t think so.”

There’s no better preparation for adult life than a part-time or temporary job waiting tables, flipping burgers, valeting cars, doing construction, or working on a production line. You can learn far more in few months from that about how the world really works than studying two years for an MBA in a fancy college. It’s only though practical experience that you can understand the challenges of working with other people from diverse backgrounds, dealing with prickly customers, and meeting seemingly impossible deadlines. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: real world experience

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Tai Bo

Tai Bo (泰伯), which literally means Great Uncle, was the eldest son of King Wen of Zhou (周文王), the founding father of the Zhou dynasty (周朝).

When he realized that his younger brother Jili (季歷) had much greater wisdom than he possessed, Tai Bo voluntarily left the then minor kingdom of Zhou to enable his father to designate him as heir to the throne. This was an almost unimaginable act in the hereditary feudal system that reigned at the time and one that has only been very rarely repeated in Chinese – or indeed world – history. No wonder Confucius described him as a man of “supreme virtue” (至德/zhìdé). Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Tai Bo

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wen of Zhou

King Wen of Zhou (周文王) is honored as the founder of the Zhou dynasty (周朝), even though in actual fact it was his son who actually established it after defeating the last Shang dynasty (商朝) king Zhouxin (紂辛) at the bloody battle of Muye (牧野之戰) in ca. 1046 BCE.

Born Ji Chang (姬昌) in 1152 BCE, King Wen took over as ruler of the then small state of Zhou after his father had been executed by the Shang king Wen Ding (文丁) in the late 12th century BCE. As the new king’s power and influence grew, the Shang king Zhouxin began to see him as a threat and had him thrown in prison in Youli (羑里) in modern-day Henan province, only agreeing to release him after being plied with lavish gifts from King Wen’s supporters. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wen of Zhou

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the chosen one?

chosen one

子畏於匡。曰:「文王既沒,文不在茲乎,天之將喪斯文也。後死者不得與於斯文也。天之未喪斯文也。匡人其如予何。」
When Confucius was trapped in Kuang, he said: “King Wen is dead, but the civilization he created lives on with me, doesn’t it? If heaven wished civilization to be destroyed, why was it entrusted to me? If heaven doesn’t wish civilization to be destroyed, what do I have to fear from the people of Kuang?”

How to boost your personal brand? This is becoming a tougher challenge than ever before in the raucous and rancorous times we live in. A few mood shots in an exotic location posted on Instagram are nowhere near enough to cut through the noise. Not even a regular stream of thought leadership pieces is likely to be noticed amid the relentless cacophony that roils the online world – unless (and even this approach isn’t guaranteed) you’re willing to stoop to posting something incredibly offensive or stupid. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the chosen one?

Leadership lessons from Confucius: taking yourself out of the equation

taking yourself out of the equation

子絕四,毋意,毋必,毋固,毋我。
Confucius avoided four things: conjecture, arbitrariness, stubbornness, and egotism.

Every situation you face is different. Investigate it thoroughly before jumping to conclusions about how to deal with it. Just because you may have encountered something similar in the past, it doesn’t mean that you should follow the same playbook this time. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: taking yourself out of the equation

Leadership lessons from Confucius: change for change’s sake

change for change's sake

子曰:「麻冕,禮也。今也純儉,吾從眾。拜下,禮也。今拜乎上,泰也,雖違眾,吾從下。」
Confucius said: “According to ritual, the ceremonial cap should be made of hemp; these days it’s made of silk. This is more economical and I follow the general practice. According to ritual, you should make your bow at the bottom of the steps; nowadays people make their bow at the top of the steps. This is arrogant, and even though it goes against the general practice I make my bow at that bottom of the steps.” (1)

Times change. So do fashions and styles. How to decide which traditions to maintain and which ones to jettison in favor something more modern? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: change for change’s sake

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a man from Daxiang

man from daxiang

達巷黨人曰,「大哉孔子,博學而無所成名。」子聞之,謂門弟子曰,「吾何執?執御乎,執射乎?吾執御矣。」(1)
A man from Daxiang said: “What a great man Confucius is! Despite his vast learning, he still hasn’t managed to make a name for himself in any particular field.” When Confucius heard of this, he said to his followers: “Which skill should I master? Should I master charioteering? Should I master archery? I think I’ll master charioteering.”

Who makes the best leaders? Generalists or specialists? There are strong arguments on both sides. Deep expertise and experience in a single domain such as finance or engineering shouldn’t necessarily disqualify you from taking on a senior management position in an organization, but it can lead to blinkered thinking unless you round yourself out with some time in sales, business development, or operations roles. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a man from Daxiang

Leadership lessons from Confucius: pointless arguments

Temple of Confucius Yilan: pointless arguments

子罕言利,與命與仁。
Confucius disapproved of profit, but he approved of fate and goodness. (1)

Pay close attention to how you speak and write. A poor choice of words or a lack of clarity in grammar or syntax might not just lead to misunderstandings today but also condemn others to thousands of years of pointless arguments over the meaning of the message you originally meant to convey. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: pointless arguments

Preventing workplace accidents with the VIA Mobile360 Forklift Safety Kit

preventing workplace accidents

We recently had the opportunity to work with the Xingchen Hongye Technology Development Company in China, who enlisted our help to upgrade the safety of their existing forklift fleet using our VIA Mobile360 solutions.

Forklifts in industrial warehouse environments can be a safety hazard not only for the drivers, but also to other members of staff working on the same shop floor. In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that as many as 20,000 workers are injured in forklift accidents each year. Of that number, approximately 100 are fatalities. These shocking figures are indicative of the situation globally, which is why companies like Xingchen Hongye are willing to invest in advanced in-vehicle safety technologies that can help drastically reduce the number of potential forklift-related accidents. Continue reading Preventing workplace accidents with the VIA Mobile360 Forklift Safety Kit