Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a good life

a good life

Fan Chi asked about goodness. Confucius said: “Be considerate in your private life, diligent in your public affairs, and loyal in your relationships with others. Even when you’re among the Yi and Di tribes, don’t deviate from these principles.”

There are no big secrets to leading a good life. If you treat people kindly, work hard, and build close relationships with others, you will have a great time no matter where you are and who you happen to be with. As much as some would like to accentuate our differences, the core values all of us live by are very much the same.


This article features a translation of Chapter 19 of Book 13 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 13 here.

(1) This is the final appearance of the follower Fan Chi in the Analects. As is his custom, Confucius tailors his response to Fan’s question about goodness to highlight the key issues he thinks he should address. Compare the relatively basic prescription he gives to Fan with the more sophisticated ones he provides to Yan Hui in 12.1 and Yan Rong in 12.2. You can read more about Fan Chi here.

(2) As I first mentioned in my comments on 3.5, I see no justification for translating the term 夷狄 (yídí) as “barbarian” as other Western scholars have. Calling them the Yi and Di tribes is quite sufficient.

This image is of Meihua Lake in Yilan County. You can read more about it here.

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