Leadership Lessons from Confucius: a fair chance

Richard Brown
2 min readJul 3, 2019

Confucius fished using a line — not a net. When hunting, he never shot at a bird that was nesting.

If you do like to go fishing or hunting, at least be sure to give your prey a fair chance by relying on your cunning and skills rather than your hi-tech weaponry. You would hope for the same if someone was pursuing you.


This article features a translation of Chapter 26 of Book 7 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 7 here.

(1) Hunting was a ritual in ancient China, particularly for the ruling classes. There are official records of kings and their retinues going on the hunt on the oracle bones used for divination in the Shang dynasty (1700 to 1027 BCE). Under the protocols that governed the activity, some allowances were given for the animals to escape and there were strict rules against burning the land to smoke them out of hiding. Killing animals during reproductive seasons was also prohibited.

(2) Fishing and bird hunting were popular among both the nobility and commoners. Again, there were conventions aimed at preventing excessively cruel practices and making sure the fish and birds were able to recreate.

(3) There has always been a strong respect for the environment in Chinese culture. It is wonderful to see the huge investments the country is now making to preserve natural habitats and endangered species. The growing popularity of organic farming is just one sign of rising environmental awareness.

I took this image at the Temple of Confucius in Changhua, Taiwan.



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.