Tag Archives: Zhou dynasty

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Tai Bo

Tai Bo (泰伯), which literally means Great Uncle, was the eldest son of King Wen of Zhou (周文王), the founding father of the Zhou dynasty (周朝).

When he realized that his younger brother Jili (季歷) had much greater wisdom than he possessed, Tai Bo voluntarily left the then minor kingdom of Zhou to enable his father to designate him as heir to the throne. This was an almost unimaginable act in the hereditary feudal system that reigned at the time and one that has only been very rarely repeated in Chinese – or indeed world – history. No wonder Confucius described him as a man of “supreme virtue” (至德/zhìdé). Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Tai Bo

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the chosen one?

chosen one

子畏於匡。曰:「文王既沒,文不在茲乎,天之將喪斯文也。後死者不得與於斯文也。天之未喪斯文也。匡人其如予何。」
When Confucius was trapped in Kuang, he said: “King Wen is dead, but the civilization he created lives on with me, doesn’t it? If heaven wished civilization to be destroyed, why was it entrusted to me? If heaven doesn’t wish civilization to be destroyed, what do I have to fear from the people of Kuang?”

How to boost your personal brand? This is becoming a tougher challenge than ever before in the raucous and rancorous times we live in. A few mood shots in an exotic location posted on Instagram are nowhere near enough to cut through the noise. Not even a regular stream of thought leadership pieces is likely to be noticed amid the relentless cacophony that roils the online world – unless (and even this approach isn’t guaranteed) you’re willing to stoop to posting something incredibly offensive or stupid. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the chosen one?

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wu of Zhou

King Wu’s name (周武王) literally means “Martial King”. He founded the Zhou dynasty (周朝) after defeating the last Shang dynasty (商朝) ruler, Zhouxin (紂辛), in the bloody battle of Muye (牧野之戰) in ca. 1046 BCE. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wu of Zhou

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke of Zhou

The Duke of Zhou (周公) is a legendary figure in Chinese history and Confucius’s hero for the pivotal role he played in unifying the country under the Zhou Dynasty (周朝) and putting the foundations in place for its social, economic, and cultural development while acting as regent until his nephew assumed the throne as King Cheng (周成王). Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke of Zhou

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a man of supreme virtue

man of supreme virtue

子曰:「泰伯其可謂至德也已矣。三以天下讓,民無得而稱焉。」
Confucius said: “It can truly be said of Tai Bo that he was a man of supreme virtue. Three times he gave up the throne of his state without giving the people the opportunity to praise him.”

When you know that there’s someone more suitable for the job you’ve been promised, politely decline it so that they get on with it. Other opportunities will come if you work to create them. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a man of supreme virtue

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Boyi and Shuqi

Born in the early part of the 11th century BCE, Boyi (伯夷) and Shuqi (叔齊) were the sons of a ruler of the minor state of Guzhu (孤竹) during the time when the ruling Shang dynasty (商朝) was collapsing under the dissolute rule of its last emperor Di Xin (帝辛).

When their father chose the younger Shuqi his successor, Shuqi declined the offer. His elder brother Boyi then refused the throne as well, insisting that his younger brother take it. Rather than fight with each other over who was the rightful ruler, the two brothers fled to the nearby state of Zhou (周). Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Boyi and Shuqi

Leadership lessons from Confucius: the good old days

good old days

子曰:「齊一變,至於魯;魯一變,至於道。」
Confucius said: “With a single reform, the state of Qi could reach the level of the state of Lu; with a single reform, the state of Lu could reach the way.”

There’s no going back to the good old days! They were never that great anyway. They just look better from a distance using the rose-tinted glasses that nostalgia gives you. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: the good old days

Leadership lessons from Confucius: forgive and forget

forgive and forget

子曰:「伯夷叔齊,不念舊惡,怨是用希。」
Confucius said: “Boyi and Shuqi never bore grudges, so they rarely aroused any resentment from others.” (1)

Forgive and forget. The only person you’ll hurt by holding a grudge against is yourself. Revenge is a dish best never served at all. The taste of it will leave you bitter and sore. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: forgive and forget

Leadership Lessons from Confucius: nurturing leadership talent

nurturing leadership talent

子謂子賤,「君子哉若人!魯無君子者,斯焉取斯?」
Confucius said of Zijian: “He is a true leader! If there were indeed no leaders in the state of Lu, how would he have reached this level?” (1)

Are great leaders born or made? While there’ll probably never be a definitive answer to that question, creating an environment that promotes personal growth and development can certainly help people to acquire the necessary skills and attributes for taking on a leadership role. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: nurturing leadership talent

Leadership lessons from Confucius: considering the moral component

moral component

子謂韶,「盡美矣,又盡善也。」謂武,「盡美矣,未盡善也。」
Confucius described Shao music as being perfectly beautiful and perfectly good and Wu music as being perfectly beautiful but not perfectly good.

Is there a moral component to deciding whether someone or something has attained perfection? Confucius certainly thought so. That’s why he gives Shao music the edge over Wu music in this passage. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: considering the moral component