Tag Archives: Confucius on virtue

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: fine words and brave deeds

fine words

Confucius said: “The virtuous have a lot to teach others; but people who have a lot to teach others aren’t necessarily virtuous. The good are always brave; but the brave aren’t necessarily good.”
子曰:「有德者必有言,有言者不必有德。仁者必有勇,勇者不必有仁。」

Fine words and brave deeds aren’t enough to prove that someone is truly virtuous or good. It can be all too easy for people to conceal their true nature with soaring oratory and ostentatious posturing when the potential downside is minimal and the potential upside in terms of publicity is huge. After all, calling for the government to bring an end to poverty after your financial advisors have optimized your tax liability costs you far less than actually digging into your pocket to fund some projects to address the problem yourself. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: fine words and brave deeds

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: unfit to be a shaman

unfit to be a shaman

Confucius said: “Southerners have a saying: ‘A person who lacks constancy is unfit to be a shaman.’ This is so true! The Book of Changes says, ‘if you’re not constant in virtue, you’ll suffer disgrace.’” Confucius added: “Not even a divination will be of any use for a person like that.”
子曰:「南人有言曰:『人而無恒,不可以作巫醫。』善夫!『不恒其德,或承之羞。』」子曰:「不占而已矣。」

As the pace of market disruption continues to accelerate thanks to continued advances in AI, it’s going to be more and more challenging to predict the future of your organization. That makes it all the more important to have a clear long-term vision and set of core values to provide a compass for steering the right course as it is being buffeted by the driving rain and roaring waves. Without a consistent decision-making framework and process, not even a divination will be enough to help you to foresee the rocks and reefs you will need to avoid amid the storms that loom ahead. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: unfit to be a shaman

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 7: resources

Here is a list of resources covering Book 7 of the Analects of Confucius. You can click on the links below to learn more about the main themes of the book:

Analects of Confucius Book 7: translation
Analects of Confucius Book 7: by numbers
Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius’s love of learning and teaching
Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on teaching
Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on wealth
Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius’s love of music
Analects of Confucius Book 7: hopes and dreams of Confucius
Analects of Confucius Book 7: a vivid portrait of Confucius
Analects of Confucius Book 7: the relationship between Zilu and Confucius
Analects of Confucius Book 7: Confucius on self-cultivation

Here is a list of articles I have written about each chapter in the book. Again, click on the links to learn more. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 7: resources

Analects of Confucius Book 4: virtue never stands alone

Virtue

Confucius made regular use of the device of comparing the lofty values of a leader (君子/jūnzǐ) with the base instincts of a petty person (小人/xiǎorén). In 4.11, for example, he comments that while the former pursues virtue and justice, the latter only cares about the accumulation of material possessions and gaining favors. Leaders thus focus on improving themselves in order to better contribute to the common good of society, while petty or small-minded people are only concerned with extracting as many personal benefits as possible from it. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: virtue never stands alone

Analects of Confucius Book 4: Confucius on leadership qualities

Junzi

The ability to assess a given situation objectively and take the most appropriate action based on the facts of it is one of the key leadership qualities that Confucius highlights in Book 4 of the Analects. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: Confucius on leadership qualities

Leadership lessons from Confucius: appearances matter

appearances matter

子曰:「吾未見好德如好色者也。」
Confucius said: “I’ve never met anyone who loves virtue as much as sensual beauty.”

Don’t delude yourself: appearances matter. If you can’t be bothered to dress for the role you’re being interviewed for, why should your prospective employer be bothered to hire you? If a company that’s trying to do business with you can’t be bothered to have a clean and attractive website, why should you be bothered to give them an order? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: appearances matter

Leadership lessons from Confucius: set your heart on the way

set your heart on the way

子曰:「志於道,據於德,依於仁,游於藝。」
Confucius said: “Set your heart on the way; act in accordance with virtue; hold fast to goodness; enjoy the arts.” (1) (2)

No matter what path you choose to pursue in life, the more strongly you dedicate yourself to it, the more likely you are to achieve fulfillment. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: set your heart on the way

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the golden mean

golden mean

子曰:「中庸之為德也,其至矣乎!民鮮久矣。」
Confucius said: “Applying the golden mean is the highest level of virtue. It’s been rare among the people for a long time.”

How many mood swings do you experience in the course of a single day? When bad news hits, do you stay calm and collected or do you have to fight to control your rising anger? How about when good news comes? Do you punch your fist in the air and give everyone around you high-fives or do you stay focused on the task at hand? Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the golden mean

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: birds of a feather

birds of a feather

子曰:「德不孤,必有鄰。」
Confucius said: “Virtue never stands alone; it always has neighbors.”

Birds of a feather flock together. This is the reason why Silicon Valley has been able to remain so dominant for so long. With its thriving technology, business, financial, and education ecosystem, the area has long been able to attract the brightest and most entrepreneurial talent in the world to join the ranks of its giants or set up their own companies to exploit the latest advances and innovations. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: birds of a feather