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!
Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: actions speak louder than words
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
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!
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.
Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: life is short
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.
Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: vision and core values
“A leader does not engage in competition.” This is the advice that Confucius gives in Chapter 7 of Book 3 of the Analects.
“But if you can’t avoid it, you should practice archery,” Confucius continues. This is because he saw archery as more of a ritual discipline than a mere contest. Hitting the center of the target requires a calm and concentrated inner state rather than physical power and strength. Trying to compete with other participants will only serve to detract from this focus, and more likely than not cause you to try too hard and lose your accuracy. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 3: Confucius on archery and leadership
Confucius said: “When your parents are alive, do not travel far. If you do have to travel, be sure to have a specific destination.”
As business becomes increasingly global, it’s getting more and more difficult to achieve the right balance between your working and family lives. While apps like Skype make it easier to remain in touch with your loved ones while you’re on the road, online conversations remain a poor substitute for face-to-face conversations. Even high-resolution video cannot capture the nuances of physical presence with someone.
Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: do not travel far
Confucius said: “When serving your parents, you may gently remonstrate with them. If you see that they’re not following your advice, remain respectful and do not contradict them. Don’t let your efforts turn to bitterness.” (1)
How to react when your boss refuses to listen to your counsel? Do you continue to fight your corner or do you gracefully withdraw from the fray by agreeing to disagree with him? Perhaps even more importantly, do you accept his refusal to bow to your wisdom with grace or do you let his obvious stupidity and blindness consume you with anger and resentment?
Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: when serving your parents
Confucius said: “When you meet people of exceptional character, think how you can become their equal. When you meet people of poor character, look inside and examine yourself.”
There’s a lot you can learn from observing the behavior and character of the people around you. The best among them can act as a positive role model showing you how to become more confident in how to conduct yourself, more purposeful in the way you go about your daily business, and kinder and more tolerant in how you treat others.
Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: look inside and examine yourself
Confucius said: “A leader is concerned about what is right; a petty person is concerned about what is in his own interest.”
When you’re preparing a proposal, take some time to understand the needs and motivations of the person you’re going to pitch it to.
Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: tuning your pitch