Leadership Lessons from Confucius: turning an idea into reality

turning an idea into reality

子曰:「博學於文,約之以禮,亦可以弗畔矣夫。」
Confucius said: “If you expand your learning through culture and keep your behavior in check through ritual you’re unlikely to go wrong.”

It can be easy to get so consumed by an idea that you lose sight of how to turn it into reality. While the numbers may look amazing in the spreadsheets and presentation files you hastily cobble together and the initial feedback from the small circle of friends you trust enough to tell them about it is off the charts, your unicorn is just a twinkle in your eye until you figure out the actionable steps that will be required to let it loose into the world.

Ritual provides a path for channeling your idea into actionable steps. Even such a seemingly simple act as writing down your daily goals at the same time every morning can give you the mindset and discipline you need to accomplish the tasks you have laid out for the day ahead. The more you extend and intensify the ritual, the closer you come to bridging the gap between idea and action and the sharper your sense of focus becomes.

Getting a ritual going is tough to begin with. Maintaining and extending it can be even more challenging amid all the other demands on your schedule. But once you get into the cadence of it, you will have built the foundation for turning your idea into the reality you’d always dreamed it would be.

Notes

This article features a translation of Chapter 15 of Book 12 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 12 here.

(1) This is an almost word-for-word copy of 6.27. You can read more about that here.

I took this image in the Four Beasts Scenic Area in Taipei.

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