Tag Archives: Confucius on self-improvement

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: 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: 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: stick to your principles

stick to your principles

子曰:「聖人,吾不得而見之矣,得見君子者,斯可矣。」子曰:「善人,吾不得而見之矣,得見有恒者,斯可矣。亡而為有,虛而為盈,約而為泰,難乎有恒矣。」
Confucius said: “I have no hope of ever meeting a great sage; I suppose I would be content to meet a true leader.” Confucius said: “I cannot ever hope to meet a perfect person; I suppose I would be content to meet someone who sticks to their principles. Yet in an age when nothing masquerades as something, emptiness masquerades as fullness, and penury masquerades as affluence, it is hard enough just to stick to your principles.”

Even if the world is going to hell in a handbasket, that doesn’t mean you have a free pass to give up your own principles. Just because you have no role models around you to inspire you, it doesn’t mean that you can give up on striving to do better. Indeed, their very absence it makes it all the more important that you stick to your principles and values so that you can provide the example that others long to follow. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: stick to your principles

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the secret sauce

secret sauce

子曰:「二三子以我為隱乎?吾無隱乎爾。吾無行而不與二三子者,是丘也。」
Confucius said to his followers: “My friends, do you think I’m hiding something from you? I’m hiding nothing at all. There’s nothing I do without sharing it with you. That’s my way.”

It’s always tempting to believe that someone who appears to be more successful than you has some secret sauce that would enable you to achieve similar heights if only they would reveal it to you. That’s certainly what some of Confucius’s followers thought as they listened to their master’s teachings and watched him in action. It’s also what many people are searching for when they read self-help books today. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the secret sauce

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