Yuan Xian asked about shamefulness. Confucius said: “Caring only about your official salary no matter whether good or bad government prevails in the state. That is shamefulness.” “If you overcome contentiousness, arrogance, bitterness, and greed can you be said to have achieved true goodness?” Confucius said: “You can be said to have achieved something difficult; but I don’t know whether it’s true goodness.”
Becoming a good leader involves much more than overcoming your weaknesses and character defects – no matter how egregious they might be. It also means harnessing your strengths and virtues in order to make a greater contribution to your family, organization, and society. The more you deny yourself the experience of engaging with your emotions and desires, the less able you are to understand and empathize with other people. By stepping away from the daily fray and basking in self-righteousness, you risk losing touch with reality and minimizing the positive impact that you would otherwise have on everybody. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: overcoming your weaknesses
Like Book 8, Book 9 of the Analects of Confucius is a bit of a hodgepodge of various sayings and episodes culled from multiple sources – making it impossible to discern a central theme. It does, however, include some revealing passages involving Confucius and three of his most faithful followers that shed further light on his relationships with them.
Confucius’s protégé and favorite Yan Hui makes the most appearances in the book with three. Zilu and Zigong both make two. The only other possible follower featured is the enigmatically-named Lao (牢) in 9.7. He is usually identified as the fastidious and relatively obscure Yuan Xian. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 9 overview: Confucius praises Yan Hui
Yuan Xian (原憲) was also known by the courtesy name of Zisi (子思) and the name of Yuan Si (原思). Born into a poor family either in the state of Song (宋) or state of Lu (魯) in around 515 BCE, he was over thirty years younger than Confucius and was noted for the excessive, some might say ostentatious, zeal with which pursuing a path of fastidious purity.
Even Confucius was moved to criticize Yuan for going too far. In Chapter 5 of Book 6, the sage tells him that he shouldn’t decline the salary that goes with the job of steward that he offers him. Continue reading Followers of Confucius: Yuan Xian