Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a cry of frustration

Richard Brown
2 min readOct 9, 2021


Confucius said: “I give up! “I have never met anyone who loves virtue as much as sensual beauty.”

Why condemn other people for their lack of virtue when there are so many ways in which you can improve your own? Although venting your frustration about the failings of others may make you feel better about yourself for a moment, it does nothing to help you address the very real issues that you face in your own life. Why not focus your precious time on dealing with those rather than attempting to put yourself on a pedestal above everyone else?

Talk about those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones! Wouldn’t we all be a lot happier and more productive if we stuck to our own affairs rather than poking our nose into those of others?

This article features a translation of Chapter 13 of Book 15 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 15 here.

(1) This is a repetition of 9.18 with an additional cry of frustration from Confucius at the decadence that reigned over the world around him.

(2) One of the great strengths of the Analects is that it does not attempt to gloss over Confucius’s own lapses in behavior and judgements. It presents him as a human like the rest of us with all the attendant strengths and weaknesses. It does not portray him as a saint or wise sage sitting above the fray. He struggled just as much as everyone else to follow the path of goodness. By his own admission, it took him until he was seventy to achieve it. See 2.4.

I took this image at the Mencius Cemetery in Qufu.



Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.