Tag Archives: golden mean

Analects of Confucius Book 6: Confucius on the golden mean

Confucius on the golden mean

How to be the best you can be? This is the question Confucius raises in 6.29 of the Analects. His answer is that it’s by applying the “golden mean” (中庸 /zhōngyōng), a dynamic process that enables you to maintain a constant state of balance in your character and attitude towards life.

In 6.18, Confucius describes the two key forces that drive the application of the golden mean. Native substance (質/zhì) and cultural refinement (文/wén) comprise a complementary and conflicting duality that needs to be constantly tweaked to maintain the optimum equilibrium. If you don’t put enough focus on learning, you risk becoming as coarse as a peasant; if you put too much focus on learning, you risk becoming as pedantic as a clerk. The goal is to hit the mark in the middle. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 6: Confucius on the golden mean

Leadership lessons from Confucius: both miss the mark

miss the mark

子貢問:「師與商也孰賢?」子曰:「師也過,商也不及。」曰:「然則師愈與?」子曰:「過猶不及。」
Zigong asked: “Who is better: Zizhang or Zixia?” Confucius said: “Zizhang overshoots the mark and Zixia falls short of the mark.” Zigong said: “Then Zizhang must be better?” Confucius said: “Both miss the mark.”

When does your greatest strength become your greatest weakness? This is a question you should think deeply about when analyzing your actions. A lot may depend on the circumstances you’re in.
Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: both miss the mark

Leadership lessons from Confucius: balanced and calm

balanced and calm

曾子曰:「以能問於不能,以多問於寡,有若無,實若虛,犯而不校,昔者吾友,嘗從事於斯矣。」
Zengzi said: “Capable but willing to listen to those who are not capable; talented but willing to listen to those without talent; viewing having as the same as not having; viewing fullness as the same as emptiness; accepting insults without bearing a grudge: long ago, I had a friend who practiced these things.”

Modesty and openness are the keys to achieving the golden mean. Whenever you meet someone, ignore your preconceptions about them and listen to what they have to say. Chances are that they have an interesting perspective to share with you and something useful to teach you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: balanced and calm

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the more you lean in one direction

lean in

子曰:「奢則不孫,儉則固。與其不孫也,寧固。」
Confucius said: “Just as extravagance leads to arrogance, frugality leads to meanness. It’s better to be mean rather than arrogant.”

The more you become accustomed to a luxurious lifestyle, the higher your expectations rise. A standard room in a five-star hotel’s no longer enough to satisfy you. You really need an elaborate suite with an awesome view of the beach to get a decent night’s sleep. After all, you deserve the very best, don’t you? You’re so much smarter and hard-working than the hoi-polloi. It’s about time you received the benefits you’re entitled to. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the more you lean in one direction