Tag Archives: Analects Book 1

Analects Book 1: Confucius on motivation

Confucius never promised a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for people who followed his way. He regarded it as everyone’s duty to cultivate their learning and behavior in line with his teachings. It probably never occurred to him to offer them any encouragement or incentives to help them along this lonely and difficult path. Continue reading Analects Book 1: Confucius on motivation

Analects Book 1: Confucius on affectation

Throughout The Analects, Confucius repeatedly raises his concerns about people who fail to back up their promises with meaningful actions and behave in superficial ways designed to impress their peers with their morality and kindness rather than out of any genuine desire to follow the principles that they purportedly ascribe to. Continue reading Analects Book 1: Confucius on affectation

Analects Book 1: Confucius on reverence

Reverence

Reverence (恭/gōng) is one of the smaller stars in Confucius’s moral firmament, and can also be translated as “respectfulness”, “solemnity”, “gravity”, or simply “manners”. 

Reverence entails working hard at your studies and career and acting in a humble and serious manner when interacting with other people and attending ritual ceremonies. Continue reading Analects Book 1: Confucius on reverence

Analects Book 1: Confucius on love

Love

The sort of love (愛/ài) Confucius refers to in The Analects is driven by duty rather than emotion. When he advises in Chapter 5 of Book 1 that a ruler should “love your people”, he is essentially saying that the ruler has a responsibility to make sure that his subjects do not lack the basic necessities of life: nothing more and nothing less. Continue reading Analects Book 1: Confucius on love

Analects Book 1: Confucius on rightness

Rightness

Rightness (義/) means having the moral disposition to instinctively or spontaneously do the right thing or act in the right way in any given situation. Alternative translations include “righteousness”, “propriety”, “morality”, “appropriateness”, and “what is right”. Continue reading Analects Book 1: Confucius on rightness

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: quiet satisfaction

Temple of Confucius: quiet satisfaction

子曰:「不患人之不己之,患不知人也。」
The Master said: “Don’t be concerned about other people failing to acknowledge you; be concerned about failing to acknowledge them.”

Leadership isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not a race for fame and fortune. It’s a constant process of “carving and polishing stones” to sharpen your ability to build and develop a self-sustaining team that requires minimal intervention from you in how it operates. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: quiet satisfaction

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: like carving and polishing stones

like carving and polishing stones

子貢曰:「貧而無諂,富而無驕,何如?」子曰:「可也,未若貧而樂,富而好禮者也。」子貢曰:「詩云:『如切如磋,如琢如磨』,其斯之謂與?」子曰:「賜也,始可與言詩已矣,告諸往而知來者。」
Zigong said: “’Poor but not subservient; wealthy but not arrogant.’ What do you think of that?” The Master said: “Not bad, but this would be better still: ‘Poor but content; wealthy but loves the rites.’” Zigong said: “In the Book of Songs it is said: ‘Like carving and polishing stones, like cutting and grinding gems.’ Is this not the same idea?” Confucius said: “Wonderful, Zigong! At last I can discuss the Book of Songs with you! Based on what I’ve already said, you can work out what’s coming next!”

“Like carving and polishing stones, like cutting and grinding gems.” This line from the ancient Book of Songs (1) that Zigong (2) quotes to Confucius during their bout of poetic banter provides the perfect metaphor for the process of self-cultivation. The modern-day equivalent would be, I suppose, “sharpening the saw.” Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: like carving and polishing stones

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: love learning

love learning

子曰:「君子食無求飽,居無求安,敏於事而慎於言,就有道而正焉,可謂好學也已。」
The Master said: “A leader eats without filling his stomach; he chooses a home without demanding comfort; he is diligent in his work and cautious in his speech; and he keeps the company of others who possess the way to make sure that he stays on the right path. This is what it means to truly love learning.” (1)

Leadership requires focusing your energy on cultivating the self rather than pursuing the material trappings of success. This means working hard, being careful about what you say, and spending your time with people who can help you improve through the example they set and the knowledge they share with you. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: love learning

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: rash promises

rash promises

有子曰:「信近於義,言可復也。恭近於禮,遠恥辱也。因不失其親,亦可宗也。」
Youzi said: “If your commitments conform to what is right, you will be able to keep your word. If your manners conform to the rites, you will be able to avoid shame and disgrace. Only if you associate with reliable people will you be successful.”

Making rash promises that you have no hope or intention of fulfilling is a sure way of eroding the trust that people have in you. You might be able to get away with it for a while through sheer force of personality or verbal dexterity, but eventually the chickens will come home to roost and your credibility will be destroyed. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: rash promises