Tag Archives: Confucius on learning

Analects of Confucius Book 7: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 7 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. It provides a vivid portrait of the sage’s personality and motivations, as well as his opinions on various followers and other contemporary and historical figures.

Chapter 1
子曰:「述而不作,信而好古,竊比於我老彭。」
Confucius said: “I transmit but I don’t create. I am faithful to and love the past. In this respect, I dare to compare myself with Old Peng.”
Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: new English translation

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the best thing since sliced bread

best thing since sliced bread

子曰:「若聖與仁,則吾豈敢?抑為之不厭,誨人不倦,則可謂云爾已矣。」公西華曰:「正唯弟子不能學也。」
Confucius said: “How could I possibly dare to claim that I’m a man of great wisdom and goodness? All that can be said of me is that I never grow weary of learning and never get tired of teaching others.” Gongxi Chi said: “This is exactly what we students are unable to grasp.”

Better not to blow your own trumpet. If you’re anywhere near as good as you think you are, others will no doubt sing your praises. Just don’t let all the compliments go to your head, that’s all. Even if everyone else thinks that you’re the best thing since sliced bread, you know deep down that the moment you rest on your laurels complacency will set in and the downward slide will begin. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the best thing since sliced bread

Leadership lessons from Confucius: room for improvement

room for improvement

子曰:「文,莫吾猶人也。躬行君子,則吾未之有得。」
Confucius said: “Although my commitment is as strong as anyone’s when it comes to cultural knowledge and refinement, I haven’t yet hit the target of becoming a true leader in how I conduct myself.”

No matter how accomplished and successful you are, there’s always room for improvement. That doesn’t mean that you should constantly beat yourself up for your inevitable failings, but that that you should be able to reflect calmly on them and take concrete steps to address them in the future. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: room for improvement

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the power of a reality distortion field

reality distortion field

子曰:「蓋有不知而作之者,我無是也。多聞,擇其善者而從之。多見而識之,知之次也。」
Confucius said: “Perhaps there are some people who can create something new without really understanding what they’re doing, but I’m not one of them. I listen a lot, pick the best of it, and follow it; I observe a lot and take note of it. This is the best way for me to learn.”

There are a lot of myths surrounding creativity, not to mention a thriving publishing and consulting industry eager to deliver magical insights that will inspire our imaginations to ever greater heights. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the power of a reality distortion field

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the secret sauce

secret sauce

子曰:「二三子以我為隱乎?吾無隱乎爾。吾無行而不與二三子者,是丘也。」
Confucius said to his followers: “My friends, do you think I’m hiding something from you? I’m hiding nothing at all. There’s nothing I do without sharing it with you. That’s my way.”

It’s always tempting to believe that someone who appears to be more successful than you has some secret sauce that would enable you to achieve similar heights if only they would reveal it to you. That’s certainly what some of Confucius’s followers thought as they listened to their master’s teachings and watched him in action. It’s also what many people are searching for when they read self-help books today. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the secret sauce

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a stroll with any two people

stroll

子曰:「三人行,必有我師焉:擇其善者而從之,其不善者而改之。」
Confucius said: “Let me take a stroll with any two people, and I can always be sure of learning something from them. I can take their good points and emulate them, and I can take their bad points and correct them in myself.”

How ironic that the very devices that help us to connect with each other more easily in virtual spaces also have the effect of keeping us further apart when we are in physical proximity! Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a stroll with any two people

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.”

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: the other three corners of the square

other three corners of the square

子曰:「不憤不啟,不悱不發。舉一隅不以三隅反,則不復也。」
Confucius said: “I instruct only the passionate. I enlighten only the fervent. If a student cannot return with the other three corners of the square after I have shown them the first one, I will not repeat the lesson.” (1)

There’s no substitute for enthusiasm when it comes to learning. If you don’t show any passion for a subject, you can’t expect anyone else to go out of their way to help you make progress in it. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the other three corners of the square

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a bundle of dried meat

bundle of dried meat

子曰:「自行束修以上,吾未嘗無誨焉。」
Confucius said: “I have never refused to teach anyone who has asked me to, even if they were too poor to offer no more than a token offering of a bundle of dried meat for their tuition.” (1)

It’s very rare to find a mentor who is willing to go beyond the bounds of duty and devote their personal time and energy to help you learn and grow. Treasure the opportunity if you are fortunate enough to be offered it and pay it back by working as hard as you can to justify your mentor’s faith in you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a bundle of dried meat

Analects of Confucius Book 7: resources

Here is a list of resources covering Book 7 of the Analects of Confucius. You can click on the links below to learn more about the main themes of the book:

Analects of Confucius Book 7: translation

Here is a list of articles I have written about each chapter in the book. Again, click on the links to learn more. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: resources