Nangong Kuo asked Confucius, saying: “Yi was a great archer and Ao was a great sailor, but neither died a natural death. Yu and Ji toiled on the land, but they came to own the world.” Confucius made no reply. Nangong Kuo left. Confucius said: “He’s a true leader! This man truly prizes virtue!”
Political battles are inevitable in any organization. Resist the temptation to join the fray. Even if you do end up coming out on top, the sweet taste of victory will soon sour as you scramble to sort out the divisions that have emerged in its wake. Better to have focused your energy and talent in a positive direction in the first place. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: the sweet taste of victory?
Gao Yao (皋陶) was a member of court of the sage king Shun and served as a minister responsible for justice and music. So great did his reputation become that he was worshipped as the God of Justice in ancient China and the house of Li, which established the Tang dynasty, claimed him as an ancestor.
Although Gao was an advocate of capital punishment for perpetrators of fraud, corruption, and murder, he argued against the ancient tradition of punishing their whole families for their crimes. He also urged that the law should be applied fairly, so that no innocent defendants were punished unjustly. This was a revolutionary principle given the harsh and arbitrary nature of the justice system at the time. Continue reading Historical Figures in the Analects of Confucius: Gao Yao
Book 8 of the Analects of Confucius features only one of the sage’s followers. Thanks no doubt to some editorial skullduggery from his own followers, who played in important role in compiling the Analects, the young pretender Zengzi is given five chapters to spout his wisdom. Even though, in first two at least, he is lying on his death bed, it’s hard to summon up any sympathy for him given the pretentiousness of his utterances.
The book isn’t exactly filled with contemporary figures either, featuring only two. Meng Jingzi, a member of the Meng clan, one of the notorious Three Families that ran the state of Lu, receives a rollicking from Zengzi in 8.4 for his tendency towards micromanagement in his one and only appearance in the Analects. Music Master Zhi fares much better in 8.15 when Confucius praises his “rich and beautiful music” to the skies. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 8: by numbers
Confucius said: “Shun and Yu were so majestic! They reigned over the world but never profited from it.” (1)
There’s always more than one side to every story. Before you decide whether to buy in to the version of it that someone is telling you, take some time to understand their motives in bringing it to your attention. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: selfless devotion to duty?