Tag Archives: Duke Ai

Leadership lessons from Confucius: what’s done is done

what's done is done

Duke Ai asked which wood should be used for the altar pole of the land god. Zai Yu replied: “The Xia used pine; the Yin used cypress; the Zhou used chestnut. It’s said that they wanted it to make people tremble with fear.” When Confucius heard of this, he said: “What’s done is done; no need to dredge up the past; let bygones be bygones.” (1) (2)

When someone does something dumb like Zai Yu here, it’s best to move on and forget that it ever happened. What’s done is done. There’s no point in discomfiting people by bringing up the past. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: what’s done is done

Analects Book 2: contemporary figures

Although there is extensive (and inconclusive) debate over how high Confucius actually rose in the ranks of the bureaucracy of Lu, he was certainly extremely well connected with senior officials, members of the so-called Three Families that were the true powers in the state, and even its hereditary rulers. This gave him the opportunity to observe their character and behavior at first hand, and to offer them his counsel and wisdom (even if in most cases they chose to ignore it). Continue reading Analects Book 2: contemporary figures

Leadership lessons from Confucius: on integrity

Temple of Yan Hui: integrity

Duke Ai asked: “What should I do to win the support of the people?” Confucius replied: “Promote the upright and place them above the crooked, and the people will support you. Promote the crooked and place them above the upright, and the people will not support you.” (1) (2)

What criteria do you use to select people for leadership positions in your organization? Talent is critical of course. So too is a strong track record of delivering results. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills are also vital. The list is endless. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: on integrity

A repeated question

Ji Kangzi asked: “Which of your disciples loves learning?” Confucius replied: “There was Yan Hui who loved learning. Unfortunately, his life was cut short and he died. Now there is no one who loves learning as much as he did.”

This is almost a carbon copy of Chapter III of Book 6 of the Analects. The only differences are that it is Ji Kangzi, not Duke Ai, who pops the same question, and Confucius’s response is a little shorter:  Continue reading A repeated question