Confucius was gracious but serious; commanding but not severe; respectful but at ease.
The problem with optimizing a single aspect of your behavior is that very quickly the law of diminishing returns will kick in and ultimately your efforts will backfire. Take graciousness as an example. Although it is of course important to be polite to people, if you take your politeness too far they will soon regard your behavior as fake or even a sign of weakness. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: gracious but serious
The identity of Old Peng (老彭), who Confucius “dares” to compare himself with in Chapter 1 of Book 7 of the Analects, is the source of a great deal of controversy.
Some commentators suggest he was a high-ranking official of the Shang dynasty who was known for transmitting true historical facts without any fabrications or adornments. Confucius therefore invokes his name to show his own commitment to preserving the authenticity of ancient historical documents. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Old Peng
One very good reason to study the Analects of Confucius and the Daodejing is that, for all the archaic and in the latter case mystic language they feature, these two ancient works focus on providing practical solutions to real-world problems.
Unlike many of the works in the Western philosophical cannon, neither text features an agonized search for a universal “truth” or any promises of eternal salvation for ascribing to the “right” set of values or behaving in the “correct” manner. Instead, they are concerned with dealing with the challenges of the here and now, exploring how you can improve your character to make a greater contribution to the stability and prosperity of your family, community, and society overall. Continue reading Situational leadership in the Analects and the Daodejing
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
My I Ching reading this morning was highly apposite given that I had a dental appointment scheduled for this afternoon. Hexagram 32 (恆/héng), consisting of thunder over wind, signifies endurance and resilience – two qualities that are definitely required for having a root canal taken care of.
Continue reading I Ching Diary: endurance
Fire over Heaven: Hexagram 14 (大有/dà yǒu) literally means “big have” or in more formal English “great measure”. It marks a time of great power and clarity – not to mention wealth and success.
Continue reading I Ching Diary: big have
There’s nothing like bright blue skies and glorious sunshine to lighten the mood after what seems like an eternity of dark clouds and heavy rain. I hope this is an omen for the lunar year of the dog.
Continue reading Bright blue skies and glorious sunshine
The greatest polarity of our times is the one between truth and lies. Not a single day goes by without some new apocalyptic warning that flood of fake news will sweep away the very foundations of human civilization.
Continue reading The greatest polarity of our times
One of the most useful ideas in the Daodejing is the one that many scholars label as reversion. Also known as the law of opposites or polarities, this is the process that governs the natural life cycle of a plant, animal, human, even inanimate objects such as a rock.
Continue reading Understanding the process of reversion