Confucius said: “In ancient times people learned to improve themselves. Nowadays they learn to impress others.”
Why do you learn? To improve yourself or to impress other people? Do you imbibe the latest leadership wisdom because you want to become a better manager or because you want to make sure that you’re fully armed with all the latest buzzwords when you make your presentation at the next senior management meeting? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: why do you learn?
Confucius said: “Sending people to war who have not been properly instructed is called ‘throwing them away.’”
Is training an expense or an investment? This is a very difficult question to answer, not least because even with the most sophisticated tools and models it’s almost impossible to show a direct link between money spent on staff training and financial performance. Indeed, it’s probably much easier to show losses caused by employees leaving for better-paid jobs after receiving excellent (and expensive) training from their organization! Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: an expense or an investment?
Confucius traveled to Wei, with Ran Qiu driving his carriage. Confucius said: “There are so many people!” Ran Qiu said: “When there are so many people, what should be done next?” “Enrich them.” “When they are rich, what should be done next?” “Educate them.”
Recruiting the right talent is just the first step in building a vibrant organization. Once you have everyone onboard, the next step is to make sure that they have the opportunity to constantly upgrade their capabilities through continuous learning. Although rich online resources in diverse multimedia formats have made access to knowledge more convenient than ever before, building a culture that actively encourages and rewards continuous learning is essential if everyone in the organization is to keep on growing. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: continuous learning
Confucius said: “Imagine someone who can recite the three hundred poems of the Book of Songs by heart but is unable to carry out their job when given an official post or proves to be incapable of responding on their own initiative when sent on a mission to another state. No matter how many poems they may have memorized, what use would they be?”
Even the most intensive study of a subject is of no use at all if you’re incapable of applying what you’ve learned to come up with practical solutions to real-life problems. The finest and most eloquent language is of no value at all if you’re unable to conjure up an appropriate response to a searching question from a hostile audience member. Effective learning doesn’t just require the acquisition of knowledge but also the application of it according to the needs of the situation you find yourself in. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: effective learning
At a time when education was limited to members of the elite who could afford to pay for it, Confucius was genuinely radical in his willingness to teach anyone who wanted to learn from him no matter what social background he came from.
In 7.7, he declares: “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.” In 7.28, he reprimands his followers who were reluctant to let a boy from Hu Village, the people of which were notorious for their orneriness, to approach him. “Why be so hard on him? If people make the effort to improve themselves, we should approve of their progress and ignore their previous missteps.” Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on teaching
In 7.23 of the Analects, Confucius snaps back at his followers after hearing that some of them suspect he is refusing to reveal the secret sauce to his great learning and wisdom. “My friends, do you think I’m hiding something from you?” he protests. “I’m hiding nothing at all. There’s nothing I do without sharing it with you. That’s my way.”
Perhaps if they had listened more carefully to what he had to say to the them, these doubting Thomases wouldn’t have found any reasons to question the sincerity of his intentions. Book 7 of the Analects, in particular, is full of evidence of Confucius’s love of learning and teaching. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius’s love of learning and teaching
Confucius can certainly never be accused of sugarcoating the difficulties that any would-be student would face if he chose to follow his path. He promises no seven-step plan to guaranteed success or shortcut to fame and fortune with his approach to learning. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: Confucius’s approach to learning
Book 11 of the Analects provides the most detailed collection of Confucius’s thoughts on the abilities and characters of his followers. No less than sixteen of them go under the microscope, with – surprise, surprise – the usual favorites Yan Hui (9 appearances), Zilu (9 appearances), Ran Qiu (5 appearances), and Zigong (4 appearances) receiving the lion’s share of the sage’s attention.
The lesser-known Min Ziqian and the arrogant but talented Zizhang come in next with three appearances. Three followers also make their debuts on the Analects, in the form of the “dumb” Zigao, the father of Yan Hui, Yan Lu, and the father of Zengzi, Zeng Dian – the latter two for the first and final time. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 11 themes: learning and death
Zilu appointed Zigao as governor of Bi. Confucius said: “You’re harming another man’s son.” Zilu said: “There are people there for him to learn from as well as the altars of the spirits of the land and grain where he can learn how to perform ritual ceremonies. Why should learning consist only of reading books?” Confucius said: “It’s this kind of remark that makes me hate people with a smooth tongue.”
Do you need to have all the necessary paper qualifications first before going on to employment or can you pick up what you need to know on the job? For specialist fields such as medicine, law, and some engineering disciplines, you obviously do need to pass the required courses and examinations before being let loose on the unsuspected world. But for many other positions in more general areas such as sales and marketing, enthusiasm, intelligence, good writing skills, and a willingness to learn are at least as important as a degree from even the most prestigious college – if not more so. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: paper qualifications