Category Archives: Confucius

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: birds of a feather

birds of a feather

子曰:「德不孤,必有鄰。」
Confucius said: “Virtue never stands alone; it always has neighbors.”

Birds of a feather flock together. This is the reason why Silicon Valley has been able to remain so dominant for so long. With its thriving technology, business, financial, and education ecosystem, its long been able to attract the brightest and most entrepreneurial talent in the world to join the ranks of its giants or set up their own companies to exploit the latest advances and innovations. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: birds of a feather

Leadership lessons from Confucius: be slow to speak and prompt to act

slow to speak

子曰:「君子欲訥於言,而敏於行。」
Confucius said: “A leader should be slow to speak and prompt to act.”

Instead of talking about that great idea you have in your head, why not just go ahead and carry it out? Even if you don’t manage to succeed in achieving your original goal, you will learn a huge amount in the process and be better equipped to take on your next big challenge. After all, given that it’s never been cheaper and easier it is to prototype an idea for a business, product, or creative endeavor thanks to ubiquitous connectivity and myriad online tools and communities, what have you got to lose? Except perhaps some time that you would probably have spent lamenting the opportunities that you’ve missed in your life.

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Analects of Confucius Book 2: by numbers

Analects of Confucius Book 2 by numbers

Book 2 of the Analects is fifty percent longer than Book 1, comprising twenty-four chapters compared to sixteen. Unlike in Book 1, Confucius appears in all the chapters of Book 2. A supporting cast of seven of his followers and four of his contemporaries act as foils for the sage to make his pronouncements on topics as varied as governanceleadership, filial devotion, and learning. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 2: by numbers

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: exercising restraint

exercising restraint

子曰:「以約失之者,鮮矣。」
Confucius said: “You rarely go wrong when you exercise restraint.”

Don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment. Take a deep breath or simply walk away before you say or do something that you’ll come to regret. You make your best decisions when you are calm and have time to weigh up all the available options – not when you are consumed with emotion and in a rush. As a leader, your responsibility to achieve the best solution rather than “win” the argument.

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Analects of Confucius Book 1: young pretenders and old companions

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Confucius attracted quite a following during his lifetime as a result of his reputation as a great teacher. It is traditionally believed that he had as many as three thousand students, though only seventy-two were said to have truly mastered his teachings. In Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian (史記/shǐjì) Confucius himself is quoted as saying that he had seventy-seven “scholars of extraordinary ability” who were able to understand his “instructions.” Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: young pretenders and old companions

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: actions speak louder than words

actions speak louder than words

子曰:「古者言之不出,恥躬之不逮也。」
Confucius said: “The ancients were reluctant to speak, fearing disgrace if their actions didn’t match their words.” (1)

Oh for the good old days when everyone’s word was their bond and people only opened their mouths after carefully considering what they were going to say!

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Analects of Confucius Book 3: Confucius on ritual ceremonies

Rites

Confucius never defines exactly what he means by ritual in Book 3 of the Analects. Instead, he spends most of his energy on criticizing others, most notably members of the Three Families, the true powers behind the throne of his home state of Lu, for their violations of the unwritten rules governing important ritual ceremonies that had existed since at least the beginnings of the Zhou dynasty in the early 11th century and probably even before that. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 3: Confucius on ritual ceremonies

Analects of Confucius Book 3: I follow the Zhou!

Culture

With civilization collapsing around him as multiple states and factions within them fought for control of China, Confucius looked back to the “golden age” at the beginning of the Zhou dynasty in the 11th century BC as the model for restoring stability and culture to the country. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 3: I follow the Zhou!

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: life is short

life is short

子曰:「父母之年,不可不知也:一則以喜,一則以。」
Confucius said: “Always keep the age of your parents in mind. Let this knowledge be a source of both joy and dread.”

Life is short. Make the most of it. Spend as much time as possible with the people you care the most about. They won’t be around forever. Neither will you for that matter.

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Leadership Lessons from Confucius: vision and core values

core values

子曰:「三年無改於父之道,可謂孝矣。」
Confucius said: “If after three years a man has not deviated from his father’s path, then he may be called a filial son.”

Do you know the vision and core values of the organization that you work for? Although you might be able to dredge up a few garbled phrases from your memory banks, the likely answer to this question is no. There’s no shame in this. After all, you have more pressing issues to think about such as hitting your quarterly sales numbers or making sure your new product ships on time.

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