Tag Archives: Confucius on self-cultivation

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a moment of anger

moment of anger

Fan Chi was strolling with Confucius around the Rain Dance Terrace. He said: “May I ask how you can accumulate virtue, correct evil thoughts, and resolve confusion?” Confucius said: “An excellent question! Always put service before reward: isn’t this the way to accumulate virtue? Attack the evil in yourself rather than the evil in other people: isn’t this the way to correct evil thoughts? Forget yourself in a moment of anger and bring ruin upon yourself and your family: isn’t this is a case of confusion?”
樊遲從遊於舞雩之下。曰:「敢問崇德、修慝、辨惑?」子曰:「善哉問!先事後得,非崇德與?攻其惡,無攻人之惡,非修慝與?一朝之忿,忘其身以及其親,非惑與?」

It only takes a brief moment of anger for years of hard work and selfless dedication to go down the drain. The path to self-cultivation requires learning to control your emotions so that you’re not affected by externalities. Whenever you feel the mist begin to rise, stand up and take a deep breath. Focus on what you can control – not what you can’t. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a moment of anger

Analects of Confucius Book 4: Confucius’s approach to learning

Confucius on learning

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

Leadership lessons from Confucius: you can always do better

do better

子曰:「衣敝縕袍,與衣孤貉者立,而不恥者,其由也與!不忮不求,何用不臧?」子路終身誦之。子曰:「是道也,何足以臧!」
Confucius said: “Only Zilu can stand in his shabby hemp gown next to people wearing fox and badger furs without feeling embarrassed: ‘free of envy, free of greed, he must be a good man.’” When Zilu continuously chanted these lines, Confucius said: “You’re moving in the right direction, but is that a good reason to be so self-satisfied?” (1)

Don’t rest on your laurels. There’s always room for improvement. Just because you’re making progress doesn’t mean that you can relax. You can always do better. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: you can always do better

Leadership lessons from Confucius: we all make mistakes

we all make mistakes

子曰:「主忠信,毋友不如己者,過則勿憚改。」
Confucius said: “Hold loyalty and trustworthiness as your highest principles; don’t make friends with people who are not your equal. When you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct yourself.” (1) (2)

We all make mistakes. The key is having the courage and intellectual honesty to recognize them and move swiftly to correct them. Once the problem is sorted out, it also means putting in the hard work of carefully analyzing what went wrong and the reasons for it so that you can make sure it’s never repeated. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: we all make mistakes

Leadership lessons from Confucius: grow and blossom

grow and blossom

子曰:「苗而不秀者,有矣夫!秀而不實者,有矣夫!」
Confucius said: “There are some plants that grow but never blossom; there are others that blossom but never bear fruit.”

The odds of building a successful startup are extremely low. According to various estimates only around one in ten make it. This doesn’t mean that you should give up on your dream of entrepreneurial success, but you should be well aware of the risks before you embark on your venture and make sure that you’re prepared for the challenges ahead. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: grow and blossom

Leadership lessons from Confucius: perseverance and perspiration

perseverance and perspiration

子曰:「譬如為山,未成一簣,止,吾止也!譬如平地,雖覆一簣,進,吾往也!」
Confucius said: “Let’s take piling up earth to build a mound as an example: even if I stop when I only need to pile on one last basket of earth, I have still stopped. Let’s take filling a hole in the ground as another example: if I have emptied the first basket of earth, I only need to keep on emptying more in order to continue to make progress.”

It doesn’t matter how much progress you’ve already made if you give up before achieving your goal. The responsibility for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory rests on your shoulders alone. You have no right or reason to blame anyone else. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: perseverance and perspiration

Leadership lessons from Confucius: an indomitable spirit

indomitable spirit

子曰:「學如不及,猶恐失之。」
Confucius said: “Learn as if you’ll never be able to catch up with everything you need to know and as if you’re afraid you’ll lose everything that you’ve already gained.”

There’s no substitute for hard work in the pursuit of excellence. It isn’t important how brilliant you think your ideas are. The only way you’ll succeed in implementing them is by putting your nose to the grindstone. Inspiration is useless without perspiration. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: an indomitable spirit

Leadership lessons from Confucius: calm and at ease

calm and at ease

子曰:「君子坦蕩蕩,小人長戚戚。」
Confucius said: “A leader is calm and at ease; a petty person is anxious and on edge.”

Leadership is about being comfortable with yourself and confident in your ability to handle whatever comes flying at you in this rapidly changing world. At its base is a strong ethical foundation that enables you to lead a productive personal and family life and contribute to your community and society at large. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: calm and at ease

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: the people of Hu Village

people of Hu Village

互鄉難與言,童子見,門人惑。子曰:「與其進也,不與其退也,唯何甚?人潔己以進,與其潔也,不保其往也。」
The people of Hu Village were difficult to communicate with, so when a boy from there came to visit Confucius his followers didn’t know what to think. Confucius said: “Just because I approve of his desire to improve himself doesn’t mean that I approve of his past mistakes. 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.”

Don’t let your preconceptions cloud your opinion of someone before you’ve even had the chance to meet them. No matter what you’ve previously heard about them, welcome them with an open mind and look and listen for the positive in them. The chances are that they will pleasantly surprise you and you will learn a lot from them, especially if they have a very different background than yours. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: the people of Hu Village

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.” (1)

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