Confucius said: “If you expand your learning through culture and keep your behavior in check through ritual you’re unlikely to go wrong.”
It can be easy to get so consumed by an idea that you lose sight of how to turn it into reality. While the numbers may look amazing in the spreadsheets and presentation files you hastily cobble together and the initial feedback from the small circle of friends you trust enough to tell them about it is off the charts, your unicorn is just a twinkle in your eye until you figure out the actionable steps that will be required to let it loose into the world. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: turning an idea into reality
Confucius said: “I have never refused to teach anyone who has asked me to, even if they were too poor to offer no more than a token offering of a bundle of dried meat for their tuition.” (1)
It’s very rare to find a mentor who is willing to go beyond the bounds of duty and devote their personal time and energy to help you learn and grow. Treasure the opportunity if you are fortunate enough to be offered it and pay it back by working as hard as you can to justify your mentor’s faith in you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: a bundle of dried meat
Confucius said: “Those who know the way are not the equal of those who love it; those who love the way are not the equal of those who take joy in it.” (1)
Whatever path you decide to take in life, you won’t get very far if you simply go through the motions as you make your way along it. If you can’t muster any passion for what you’re doing, then take some time to think about what you really want to do with your time on this planet. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: stuck in a rut?
Whenever Zilu learned something new but hadn’t had the chance to put it into practice, he was afraid that he might learn something else before he did so. (1)
How to stay focused when the next shiny pearl of wisdom is just a click of a mouse or swipe of a finger away? How to truly master a new topic or skill when you can easily delude yourself into believing that you already understand it after watching a few videos on YouTube or skimming a few articles furnished with attractive graphs and alarmist statistics based on dubious models? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: fake knowledge
Confucius is almost universally (and unfairly) blamed for the style of rote-learning that has plagued Chinese education for millennia. In reality, however, he advocated a balanced and intellectually-rigorous approach to learning that remains highly relevant even today. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 2: Confucius on balanced learning
In the famous snapshot he gives of his life in Chapter 4 of Book 2, Confucius summarizes the four-step process that he followed on what we might these days describe as his “lifelong learning journey.” Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 2: Confucius on lifelong learning
Although this may come as a surprise to people who have experienced or even just heard about the rigors of China’s so-called “Confucian” education system, Confucius himself believed that learning should involve much more than simply imbibing and regurgitating the ancient classics. Rather, it should be focused on the practical application of the timeless principles found in the texts to your daily life so that you can make a positive contribution to your family, your community, and ultimately the whole society you live in. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 1: Confucius on learning
Zixia said: “A man who values character over beauty, who devotes himself to serving his parents, who dedicates his life to his ruler, and who is true to his word with his friends: I’ll insist he’s learned even if others think otherwise.” (1)
Actions speak louder than words. As a leader you should focus on people who go about their daily work with quiet determination rather than those who attempt to grab your attention by saying all the right words and pushing themselves to the center stage by grabbing all the highest-profile assignments.
Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: quiet determination
Zixia said: “When an official has time to spare from his duties, he should study. When a student has time to spare from his studies, he should undertake official duties.”
The meaning of this passage isn’t entirely clear. The key message appears to be that learning and officialdom are inextricably linked. To be a truly excellent official, you need to continue learning. To be a truly excellent student, you need to serve as an official in order to practice the principles you have learned. Continue reading Lifelong learning