It’s a relief to have some time over the Tomb Sweeping holiday to review progress on my Leadership Lessons from Confucius project. When you attempt to hit a cadence of one post per day, it can be easy to start missing the wood from the trees.
So far, I’ve completed all the content covering Book 1 and Book 2 of the Analects. You can find the links to all these pieces on the following two pages: Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: tomb-sweeping holiday update
As in Book 2 and Book 3, Confucius dominates Book 4 of the Analects with the curious exceptions of Chapter 15, in which his younger follower Zengzi steps in to clarify the meaning of his words, and Chapter 26, where his follower Ziyou takes the reins. The only plausible explanation for these two anomalies is that they were slipped in by unscrupulous or careless editors. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: by numbers
Ziyou said: “In the service of a lord, overzealousness brings disgrace; in the company of friends, it brings estrangement.” (1)
You don’t have all the answers. Even if you did, your boss or your friends would soon get tired of hearing you spout your wit and wisdom at every opportunity. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a greatly under-appreciated virtue
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, the area has 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
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 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.
Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: be slow to speak and prompt to act
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’re calm and have time to weigh up all the available options – not when you’re consumed with emotion and in a rush. As a leader, your responsibility to achieve the best solution rather than “win” the argument.
Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: exercising restraint
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 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
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