Tag Archives: Confucius on the rites

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: the invisible line

invisible line

子曰:「恭而無禮則勞,慎而無禮則葸,勇而無禮則亂,直而無禮則絞。君子篤於親,則民興於仁。故舊不遺,則民不偷。」
Confucius said: “Reverence unregulated by ritual descends into indifference; cautiousness unregulated by ritual descends into timidity; boldness unregulated by ritual descends into disorder; frankness unregulated by ritual descends into hurtfulness. If a leader is devoted to their family, the people are inclined towards goodness; if a leader doesn’t forget about their old friends, the people will not shirk their obligations to others.”

Nobody’s an island. If you focus solely on improving your own performance you without any form of external mediation, the law of unintended consequences will inevitably kick in and you’ll find the strengths you’ve worked so hard hone becoming weaknesses. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: the invisible line

Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Wu Mengzi

Wu Mengzi (吳孟子) was the name that Duke Zhao of Lu (魯昭公) gave to his wife to mask the fact that he had violated a strict ritual convention by marrying a woman with the same family name (姬/Jī) as his own. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Wu Mengzi

Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke Zhao of Lu

Duke Zhao (昭公) was the predecessor of Duke Ding (定公) as the ruler of Confucius’s home state of Lu. He spent much of his reign from 541–510 BCE struggling to prevent his power being undermined by the Three Families, Jisun 季孫, Mengsun 孟孫, and Shusun 叔孫, that dominated the state. Ultimately, he failed in his attempts to control them and spent the last part of his life in exile in the states of Qi and Jin. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke Zhao of Lu

Leadership lessons from Confucius: a short and succinct answer

succinct answer

陳司敗問昭公知禮乎,孔子曰:「知禮。」孔子退,揖巫馬期而進之曰:「吾聞君子不黨,君子亦黨乎?君取於吳,為同姓,謂之吳孟子。君而知禮,孰不知禮?」巫馬期以告。子曰:「丘也幸,苟有過,人必知之。」
The Minister of Justice of Chen asked: “Did Duke Zhao understand ritual?” Confucius said: “Yes, he understood ritual.” Confucius withdrew. With a bow, the minister invited Wuma Qi to come forward and said to him: “I’ve heard it said that a true leader is never biased. But isn’t your master biased after all? The duke took a wife from the state of Wu; but because she had the same family name, he called her Wu Mengzi. If the duke understood ritual, who doesn’t understand it?” Wuma Qi reported this to Confucius. Confucius said: “I’m fortunate indeed: whenever I make a mistake, there’s always someone on hand to let me know about it.” (1) (2) (3)

Don’t let yourself get drawn into an argument when someone asks you a question that is designed to embarrass you. Give a short and succinct answer and shrug off any mock outrage that ensues from it. Life’s too short to waste time getting upset about it. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a short and succinct answer

Analects of Confucius Book 3: by numbers

Analects of Confucius Book 3 by numbers

As in Book 2, Confucius is featured in all the chapters of Book 3 of the Analects. The sage’s faithful followers Zixia and Zigong also appear in the book along with three new ones in the form of the rather dim-witted Lin Fang, the grasping Ran Qiu,  and the clever but arrogant Zai Yu. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 3: by numbers

Analects of Confucius Book 3: Confucius on ritual ceremonies

Rites

Confucius never defines exactly what he means by ritual in Book 3 of the Analects. Instead, he spends most of his energy on criticizing others, most notably members of the Three Families, the true powers behind the throne of his home state of Lu, for their violations of the unwritten rules governing important ritual ceremonies that had existed since at least the beginnings of the Zhou dynasty in the early 11th century and probably even before that. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 3: Confucius on ritual ceremonies

Leadership lessons from Confucius: making the most of every moment

every moment

子曰:「居上不寬,為禮不敬,臨喪不哀,吾何以觀之哉?」
Confucius said: “How can I bear to even contemplate someone who lacks tolerance when in high office, reverence when performing ritual, and grief when in mourning?”

How do you make the most of your day? Are you warm and friendly towards the people you work with or do you only talk with them about business? Are you fully “present” when you’re at meeting or are you distracted? Do you react calmly when things go wrong or do you explode in anger? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: making the most of every moment

Leadership lessons from Confucius: happy new year!

子曰:「事君盡禮,人以為諂也。」
Confucius said: “When you serve your lord in full accordance with ritual, people regard you as a sycophant.” (1)

Take your own path. Don’t waste precious time and energy worrying what other people are thinking or saying about you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: happy new year!