Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a covetous glance

covetous glance

Confucius said: “Don’t concern yourself with the affairs of an office that you don’t hold.”

Concentrate on your own job rather than casting a covetous glance at your boss’s chair. Even though you’re performing your responsibilities well, there are always plenty of ways in which you can improve and multiple gaps in your knowledge and experience that you can fill.

You may think that you can do your boss’s job better than he or she can, but there’s a strong chance that you’re not quite ready to deal with the complex issues and diverse pressures they have to handle. Find new ways of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to make sure that you’re fully prepared when the call to greatness finally comes.

By the same token, don’t let yourself become too envious of the jobs your peers and friends have. Sure, the world of marketing may sound a lot more glamorous than that of sales, but remember that you only get to hear or see the highlights rather than endure the daily grind of achieving web-based metrics and KPIs!

The simple truth is that the more you put into a job the more you will get out of it. Rather than telling yourself how great things would be if you were in a different role, make the most of the one you’re in now. The harder you work to prove yourself, the easier you will find it to move up.


This article features a translation of Chapter 14 of Book 8 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 8 here.

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

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