Tag Archives: Confucius on poverty

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a helping hand

a helping hand

Confucius said: “To be poor without being resentful is difficult; to be wealthy without being arrogant is easy.”
子曰:「貧而無怨難,富而無驕易。」

It can be all too easy to let success go to your head and view your wealth and fame as rightful rewards for your talents and virtues. After all, everyone else has the same chance to make something of themselves if only they worked as hard as you do and had the same drive, determination, and grit. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a helping hand

Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on self-cultivation

Confucius on self-cultivation

If there’s one central theme of Book 7 of the Analects, it’s the importance Confucius places on the power of self-cultivation. He is so focused on what he saw as his heaven-given mission of restoring the former greatness of Zhou dynasty that he doesn’t have the time or inclination to pursue the power, wealth, fame, honors, and other trappings of success craved by his contemporaries.

Confucius doesn’t claim to have any particular talent for undertaking this mission. In 7.19, he candidly admits “I wasn’t born with innate knowledge. I simply love the past and am assiduous in seeking it there.” Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on self-cultivation

Leadership lessons from Confucius: relentless demands

relentless demands

子曰:「好勇疾貧,亂也。人而不仁,疾之已甚,亂也。」
Confucius said: “If people with a courageous streak find themselves trapped in poverty, chaos will ensue. If people without a trace of goodness decide their sufferings are too great, chaos will ensue.”

The harder you push people, the likelier they are to push back either by voting with their feet or openly rebelling against the system. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: relentless demands

Leadership lessons from Confucius: riches and rank

riches and rank

子曰:「富與貴,是人之所欲也,不以其道得之,不處也。貧與賤,是人之惡也,不以其道得之,不去也。君子去仁,惡乎成名。君子無終食之間違仁,造次必於是,顛沛必於是。」
Confucius said: “Riches and rank are what people desire; but if they can only obtain them through improper ways, they should not pursue them. Poverty and obscurity are what people detest; but if they can only escape from them through improper ways, they should accept them. If a leader abandons goodness, how can they live up to that name? A leader never abandons goodness, even for as long as it takes to eat a single meal; in moments of haste and confusion they still stay true to it.”

How to stick to your core values and beliefs through thick and thin? The lure of “riches and rank” and the fear of “poverty and obscurity” are too great for most mere mortals to resist. A true leader is as rare as a pearl in an oyster bed. Or perhaps one doesn’t really exist except as an ideal to aspire to. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: riches and rank