Tag Archives: Confucius on virtue

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

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

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.”

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: “Achieving 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

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 Chapter 11 of Book 4, for example, he comments that while the former “pursues virtue” the latter only cares about the accumulation of material possessions. Leaders thus focus on improving themselves in order to better contribute to the common good of society, while a petty or small-minded people are only concerned with extracting as many material benefits as possible from it. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 4: virtue never stands alone

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

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the path to virtue

path to virtue

子曰:「君子懷德,小人懷土;君子懷刑,小人懷惠。」
Confucius said: “A leader pursues virtue; a petty person pursues land. A leader pursues justice; a petty person pursues favors.”

What is your goal in life? To accumulate material comforts or to pursue a higher path?

Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the path to virtue

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: unintended consequences

Beijing Confucius Temple: unintended consequences

子曰:「道之以政,齊之以刑,民免而無恥;道之以德,齊之以禮,有恥且格。」
Confucius said: “If you lead through laws and regulations and maintain order through punishments, people will avoid them but won’t develop a sense of shame. If you lead through virtue and keep them in line with ritual, they will develop a sense of shame and unite behind you.”

Whenever government or business leaders are faced with an ethical crisis, their instinctive response is to pass a raft of new legislation, regulations, rules, and codes of conduct to “solve” it. While in the short term this approach may give the illusion that they are “doing something” (not to mention generating some handy headlines), in the long term it has the highly corrosive effect of widening the gap between the elite and the people and increasing the level of state interference into individuals’ lives. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: unintended consequences

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: like the Pole Star

moral power

子曰:「為政以德,譬如北辰,居其所而眾星共之。」
Confucius said: “Governing by the power of virtue can be compared to the Pole Star, which remains fixed in place while all the other stars orbit respectfully around it.”

As a leader, your most important task is to set a shining example to the people around you through your virtue (德/dé), a term which can be extended to mean ethical or moral power. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: like the Pole Star