Zilu asked: “What qualities must you possess to be called a true scholar-official?” Confucius said: “Supportive, candid, and warm: such a person deserves to be called a true scholar-official. Supportive and candid with their friends and warm towards their brothers.”
How can you be a true friend with someone if you’re reluctant to tell them what you really think? Even at the potential cost of hurting their feelings, you shouldn’t hold back if you’re less than impressed with their latest madcap business idea or romantic attachment. Neither, course, should you feel hurt if they express their unvarnished opinions about your latest plans and activities. Better to hear the truth from a true friend that you know and trust than a mere acquaintance or a complete stranger. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a true friend
The Lord of She declared to Confucius: “Among my people, there’s man we call ‘Upright Gong.’ When his father stole a sheep, he informed on him.” Confucius said: “Among my people, the ones we consider to be ‘upright’ are different. Fathers watch the backs of their sons and sons watch the backs of their fathers. ‘Uprightness’ can be found in this.”
We all have our blind spots: people and ideas that we elevate so highly that we lose all sense of reality when evaluating them. Even Confucius had his with (possibly) Yan Hui and (definitely) with filial devotion. What are your blind spots? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: what are your blind spots?
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
Confucius said: “Min Ziqian is a model of filial devotion! Nobody doubts the praise given to him by his parents and brothers.” (1)
Stick to your values no matter how much it may cost you in the short term. The heavier the pressure you are put under, the stronger you will become in the long term. Those who had the greatest doubts about you will ultimately become your most ardent supporters. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: stick to your values
Confucius said: “Serving the duke and his ministers at court; serving my elders at home; mourning the dead with proper reverence; not being troubled by drink: how could I find any of these things difficult?”
Best not to become too complacent. Just as you think that you have control of your life, something is bound to happen that will knock you off balance. Pride comes before the fall. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: pride comes before the fall
Ran Qiu said: “Does the Master support the Duke of Wei?” Zigong said: “Well, I’m going to ask him.” Zigong went in and asked Confucius: “What sort of people were Boyi and Shuqi?” “They were virtuous men of old.” “Did they complain?” “They sought goodness and attained goodness. Why should they have complained?” Zigong left and said to Ran Qiu: “The Master does not support the Duke of Wei.” (1) (2) (3) (4)
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that other people will support you just because you have a good relationship with them. Learn to accept that their opinions will differ from yours no matter how close you happen to be with them. In fact, the stronger the bond you have with someone, the greater the chance that they will free to voice their disagreement with you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a tawdry tale
Meng Wubo (孟武伯) was the son of Meng Yizi (孟懿子). He is featured in Chapter 6 of Book 2 of the Analects, in which he asks Confucius about filial devotion, and Chapter 8 of Book 5, in which he asks the sage for his opinions of three of his followers. Meng Wubo was a minister of the state of Lu, as was his son Meng Jingzi (孟敬子), who is featured in Chapter 6 of Book 8 of the Analects. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Meng Wubo
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 governance, leadership, filial devotion, and learning. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 2: by numbers
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