Although he grew up in relative poverty, Confucius had no interest in wealth for its own sake even if it was generated through what many would consider as legitimate business activities. Despite his close relationship with Zigong, he couldn’t resist the occasional digs at his follower’s wheeling and dealing. Many critics have even blamed him for holding back China’s economic development because of what they see as his disdain for the profit motive.
Confucius was even more critical of the rich and powerful who accumulated wealth through illegitimate means. He was particularly vociferous in his opposition to the notorious Three Families for their brutal exploitation of the common people of Lu through excessive taxation and venal corruption. This was a key bone of contention in his volatile relationship with his follower Ran Qiu, who made a fortune from serving as a steward for the powerful Ji family. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on wealth
Profit (利/lì) was a dirty word for Confucius. He strongly opposed the pursuit of personal gain or advantage, arguing that it tempted people into wrongdoing and led to social instability. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: Confucius on profit
Confucius disapproved of profit, but he approved of fate and goodness. (1)
Pay close attention to how you speak and write. A poor choice of words or a lack of clarity in grammar or syntax might not just lead to misunderstandings today but also condemn others to thousands of years of pointless arguments over the meaning of the message you originally meant to convey. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: pointless arguments
Confucius said: “If wealth was worth pursuing, I’d go after it even if it meant working as a lowly official. But since it isn’t, I prefer to pursue what I love.” (1) (2) (3)
If you pursue a career or set up a business with the sole aim of making money, the chances are that you’ll end up feeling empty and disappointed. Even if you succeed in bringing in the moolah, you’ll be so focused on keeping the geyser gushing that you won’t have time to enjoy the comforts of the lifestyle it brings. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: if wealth was worth pursuing
Confucius said: “People who act out of self-interest cause great resentment.” (1)
Whenever you are about to make a difficult decision, take a step back and examine your motives before pulling the trigger. Have you chosen a particular course of action because it is the right thing to do or because it is in your self-interest?
Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: self-interest and great resentment
Confucius said: “A leader is concerned about what is right; a small-minded man is concerned about what is in his own interest.”
Another swipe from Confucius at those who pursue the profit motive.