Confucius said: “In the pursuit of goodness do not defer even to your teacher.”
There is only so much that you can learn from your teachers and mentors. While they can provide the basic principles and behavioral models you should follow and give you guidance and advice on how to act in certain situations, that does not mean you always need to defer to them. You are the one who has to make the final decision when the proverbial rubber hits the road.
This article features a translation of Chapter 36 of Book 15 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 15 here.
(1) Given the exalted status that teachers in China have enjoyed over the millennia as the font of all wisdom, this counsel from the sage has probably been honored more in breach than in practice! Confucius is not of course arguing that students should ignore or disrespect their elders or teachers. He is pointing out that when it comes to the pursuit of goodness, they should be encouraged to do what is right regardless of the opinions of others.
I took this image at the Cemetery of Mencius in Qufu, China.