Governance is one of the main Analects Book 13, building on the discussion of this topic in the previous book. When Zilu kicks it off in the first chapter, Confucius stresses the importance of leading people by example and working hard for them.
In the second chapter, Confucius advises Ran Yong of the need to hire and promote talented people to fill official positions and allow them room to make the occasional mistake. When Ran Yong asks how to recognize that someone has talent, Confucius tells him to promote people he knows: namely individuals he can trust to carry out their duties diligently and responsibly. Continue reading Analects Book 13 themes: Confucius on governance
I have spent most of the week examining the last recorded event in Confucius’s life: his futile audience with his ruler Duke Ai in 14.21. Strictly speaking, Confucius had no business at all informing the duke of the murder of his fellow sovereign Duke Jian of Qi because he was no longer a government official, but he probably thought the news was too important to hold back.
Perhaps Confucius would have been better off to keep it to himself, however, because he had no hope of persuading his weak and indecisive ruler to agree to his madcap scheme of launching a punitive expedition against Qi in order to bring Duke Jian’s murderer to justice. Even if he had by some miracle succeeded, he knew very well that Duke Ai did not have an army in any case – or the means to fund one. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius Project: Week 3, 2021 updates
One of the key themes of Analects Book 14 is how government officials should act. Confucius gets the ball rolling in 14.1 when he defines shamefulness as “caring only about your salary no matter whether good or bad government prevails in the state” to his follower Yuan Xian.
In 14.2, he emphasizes the point that officials should care about more than securing a cozy sinecure by commenting that “a scholar-official who cherishes their material comfort isn’t worthy of the name.” They should devote themselves to fulfilling their responsibilities towards their ruler and the common people without concern for personal enrichment or career advancement. Continue reading Analects Book 14: Confucius on how government officials should act
A total of seven followers of Confucius are featured in Book 14 of the Analects. The faithful Zilu and Zigong make the lion’s share of appearances, with six and four respectively. Yuan Xian, Nan Rong, Ran Qiu, Zengzi, and Zizhang are confined to solitary mentions. For Yuan Xian and Nan Rong, the book marks their final curtain call in the Analects.
Zilu and Zigong set off the most contentious discussion with Confucius in the book by questioning the goodness of Guan Zhong, the great chief minister of the state of Qi, in 14.16 and 14.17. When they imply that Guan Zhong should have committed suicide alongside his colleague Shao Hu following the execution of their master Prince Jiu, Confucius launches into two remarkable rants that reveal a much more hardheaded side of the sage’s character than is usually seen in the Analects. Continue reading Analects Book 14: Confucius defends Guan Zhong to Zilu and Zigong
Zifu Jingbo (子服景伯) was a high-level official in the government of the state of Lu, who was so outraged by the accusations made against Zilu by Ji Family retainer Gongbo Liao (公伯寮) that in 14.36 he boasts that he still possesses enough power “to have Liao’s corpse splayed open in the market and court” for slander.
In 19.22, he rats out his fellow minister Shusun Wushu (叔孫武叔) to Zigong for claiming that Zigong was superior to Confucius. Zigong puts his attempt at mischief-making firmly in its place by telling Jingbo that since very few people really knew Confucius he isn’t surprised by such a comment. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Zifu Jingbo
Zilu asked how to become a leader. Confucius said: “Cultivate yourself to be respectful.” Zilu asked: “Is that all there is to it?” Confucius said: “Cultivate yourself to bring peace to the people. Cultivate yourself to bring peace to the people: even Yao and Shun wouldn’t have been able to match it.”
What kind of impression do you give when you’re in a meeting? Do you sit upright in your chair and pay attention to people when they’re speaking even if you’re bored out of your mind? Or do you lounge in your seat and sneak in occasional glances at your phone to make sure you’re not missing anything important? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: cultivate yourself to be respectful
Gongbo Liao (公伯寮) worked as a retainer for the Ji Family together with Confucius’s follower Zilu. Other sources say he was a minister of the state of Lu. Quite possibly he may have acted in both capacities.
In 14.36 of the Analects, Gongbo Liao is reported as having made serious accusations against Zilu before the head of the Ji Family. Although the exact nature of these accusations remains unclear, it is likely that he argued against Zilu’s plans to raze the fortified cities of the Three Families in order to root out the rebels living in them. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Gongbo Liao
Zilu stayed for the night at the Stone Gate. In the morning, the gatekeeper said: “Where are you coming from?” Zilu said: “From Confucius.” “Isn’t he the one who knows trying to achieve the impossible but still keeps on doing it?
Does it matter what other people think of you if you’re happy doing your own thing? Does it matter if they laugh at you behind your back because they think you’re crazy? Shouldn’t they be more concerned about getting the most out of the lives they’re leading? It’s not as if they’re actually changing the world either. Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: at the stone gate
Gongbo Liao made accusations against Zilu to the head of the Ji Family. Zifu Jingbo reported this to Confucius, saying: “My master’s mind is being led astray by Gongbo Liao; but I still have enough power to have Liao’s corpse splayed open in the market and court.” Confucius said: “Will the way prevail? That’s for fate to decide. Will the way be cast aside? That’s for fate to decide. What does Gongbo Liao matter compared with fate?”
How confident are you that your internal systems deliver the outcomes they were designed to achieve? Does that automated customer service app you introduced last year truly speed up the processing of enquiries and complaints? Or does it force the very people who keep you in business to go elsewhere because it’s so complicated to use? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: for fate to decide
Confucius said: “No one understands me!” Zigong said: “How is it that no one understands you?” Confucius said: “I neither complain about heaven nor do I blame other people. I study what’s below in order to understand what’s above. If there’s anyone who understands me, it can only be heaven.”
Do you really have what it takes to think different? Or, come to think of it, to just do it? Do you have the courage to follow your dreams despite the doubts and worries of your family and friends who are terrified that you will fail? Do you have the determination to keep on going despite the constant stream of rejections from potential investors and customers who shake their heads and roll their eyes at the sheer insanity of your idea? Continue reading Leadership Lessons from Confucius: no one understands me!