Leadership Lessons from Confucius: do not travel far

Richard Brown
2 min readMar 20, 2019

Confucius said: “When your parents are alive, do not travel far. If you do have to travel, be sure to have a specific destination.”

As business becomes increasingly global, it’s getting more and more difficult to achieve the right balance between your working and family lives. While apps like Skype make it easier to remain in touch with your loved ones while you’re on the road, online conversations remain a poor substitute for face-to-face conversations. Even high-resolution video cannot capture the nuances of physical presence with someone.

There are no perfect solutions to resolving this issue. Face-to-face meetings are just as important for creating close business relationships as they are for nurturing close family connections. There’s no substitute for a firm handshake and a friendly lunch or dinner to get to know somebody.

The only answer is to keep your traveling to a minimum by only going on essential trips and making sure that you pack as much into them as possible. And of course keeping in regular contact with your family at home so that they don’t worry about you.


This article features a translation of Chapter 19 of Book 4 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 4 here.

I took this image at the Taipei Confucius Temple.



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.