Tag Archives: Confucius on knowledge

Leadership lessons from Confucius: from both ends

from both ends

子曰:「吾有知乎哉?無知也。有鄙夫問於我,空空如也;我叩其兩端而竭焉。」
Confucius said: “Am I knowledgeable? No, I’m not. When a humble farmer asked me for advice about a problem, my mind went blank; but I attacked the problem from both ends until I found the solution.” (1)

Never forget that you don’t have all the answers. Stay humble and keep an open mind. Approach each problem you encounter based on its particular merits, no matter how much experience and expertise you may have in the field. Gather up all the facts and analyze them from all angles. Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each possible solution. Only when you’ve completed your analysis should you decide on the appropriate course of action. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: from both ends

Leadership lessons from Confucius: innate knowledge

innate knowledge

子曰:「我非生而知之者,好古,敏以求之者也。」
Confucius said: “I wasn’t born with innate knowledge. I simply love the past and am assiduous in seeking it there.” (1) (2) (3) (4)

Even if you have all the talent in the world, it isn’t worth anything unless you’re willing to put your nose to the grindstone and set to work. Of course, it helps to have family members around to encourage and guide you, as Confucius’s mother and grandfather are reputed to have done after his father died when Confucius was just three years old, but that can only take you so far. In the end, it’s up to you to put in the time and effort required to be successful. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: innate knowledge

Leadership lessons from Confucius: purpose and meaning

purpose and meaning

子曰:「默而識之,學而不厭,誨人不倦,何有於我哉?」
Confucius said: “Quietly absorbing knowledge, learning and yet never growing weary, teaching and yet never becoming tired – how can any of these be difficult for me?”

Confucius was very fortunate in finding his passion early on in life. As a young boy he became fascinated by ritual objects and developed a lifelong love of learning the ways of the ancients and sharing this knowledge with anyone who showed even the slightest inclination to listen to him. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: purpose and meaning

Leadership lessons from Confucius: dumb questions

dumb questions

子曰:「由!誨女知之乎!知之為知之,不知為不知,是知也。」
Confucius said: “Zilu, let me tell you what knowledge means. Knowing what you know and what you don’t know. That is what knowledge means.”

It can be very tempting to pretend that you understand what someone is droning on about during a meeting or presentation out of fear of looking stupid in front of everyone else. Tempting but stupid, because the likelihood is that if you don’t have the foggiest idea of what the person is talking about then most of the other people in the room don’t either! Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: dumb questions