Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a blustering façade
Confucius said, “Someone who hides behind a blustering façade to conceal their deficiencies cannot even be compared with a petty person but a burglar climbing over a wall to break in.”
You have worked very hard to hone your virtue. It is very generous of you to share it with others so that they can be inspired by your shining example. How else will they know the causes that they need to support and the words and phrases that will offend them? You are their guiding light who illuminates the darkness that blinds them.
Should someone have the temerity to challenge your virtue, why would you demean yourself by engaging in a discussion with them? They need to listen to you; you do not need to listen to them. Why should you let their petty gripes and concerns get in the way of your grand vision for saving the world?
This article features a translation of Chapter 12 of Book 17 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 17 here.
(1) Confucius had no time for hypocritical members of the ruling class who made an empty show of strength to silence their critics and cover up their greed, decadence, and cowardice. Unlike common thieves, who sometimes had no choice but to steal because of their poverty, they had no excuse for not pursuing the right moral path. Like the village worthy Confucius derides in the next chapter, they were thieves of virtue using smooth talk and an affected manner to mask their relentless pursuit of ever greater status, wealth, and power.
I took this image in the Four Beasts Scenic Area in Taipei.