Tag Archives: Confucius on self-cultivation

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. That doesn’t mean you should give up on your dream of entrepreneurial success, but that 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.”

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: asking yourself the tough questions

tough questions

子曰:「德之不修,學之不講,聞義不能徒,不善不能改,是吾憂也。」
Confucius said: “Failure to nurture my virtue, failure to discuss what I have learned, failure to follow what I know to be right, and failure to correct my faults: these are the worries that plague me.”

Self-reflection requires asking yourself the tough questions that you don’t necessarily want to find a correct answer to. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: asking yourself the tough questions

Leadership lessons from Confucius: look inside and examine yourself

look inside

子曰:「見賢思齊焉,見不賢而內自省也。」
Confucius said: “When you meet people of exceptional character, think how you can become their equal. When you meet people of poor character, look inside and examine yourself.”

There’s a lot you can learn from observing the behavior and character of the people around you. The best among them can act as a positive role model showing you how to become more confident in how to conduct yourself, more purposeful in the way you go about your daily business, and kinder and more tolerant in how you treat others.

Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: look inside and examine yourself

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: quiet satisfaction

Temple of Confucius: quiet satisfaction

子曰:「不患人之不己之,患不知人也。」
Confucius said: “Don’t be concerned about other people failing to acknowledge your merits; be concerned about failing to acknowledge their merits.”

Leadership isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not a race for fame and fortune. It’s a constant process of “carving and polishing stones” to sharpen your ability to build and develop a self-sustaining team that requires minimal intervention from you in how it operates. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: quiet satisfaction

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: love learning

love learning

子曰:「君子食無求飽,居無求安,敏於事而慎於言,就有道而正焉,可謂好學也已。」
Confucius said: “A leader eats without filling his stomach; chooses a home without demanding comfort; is diligent in his work and cautious in his speech; and keeps the company of others who possess the way to make sure that he stays on the right path. This is what it means to truly love learning.” (1)

Leadership requires focusing your energy on cultivating the self rather than pursuing the material trappings of success. This means working hard, being careful about what you say, and spending your time with people who can help you improve through the example they set and the knowledge they share with you. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: love learning